It was once said that “without struggle there is no progress,” and USC students continue to be example of that statement. USC has produced many professionals, from NFL stars to TV anchors. For one student in particular, USC is another stepping stone on his road to success.

David Hernandez is a double-major student at USC studying both Political Science and American Studies. He also has a minor in Urban Policy and Planning, and wants to join Teach for America Corps after graduation. Hernandez is a man of ambition with plans to attend Harvard Kennedy School of Government for his graduate degree and enroll in their dual degree program in both law and government.

His dreams have no limit, and he has done everything he can to reach them, most recently he received an opportunity that some may never get. Hernandez was selected to be part of the Champions of Change who are given the opportunity to go speak at the White House. Hernandez was one of 12 selected from all over the country; the only student chosen from USC.

“I was the only one from ’SC, and they had some Ivy Leaguers there too: Harvard, Stanford, etc. I felt honored representing USC among such a great caliber of students,” he says.

Hernandez allowed Campus Circle an exclusive interview to find out more about how he is living out his dreams.

How did you feel when you found out you had been chosen to go?

I couldn’t stop smiling, I mean they’re only 12 of us who were selected nationwide, I felt honored, proud, excited – but more nervous than anything.

How was it to be at the White House?

To be at the White House was really humbling. I plan to work for the White House someday, and to already be there and be recognized by them so early in my career left me speechless. I came back more inspired and empowered than I have ever felt. I feel that I have become more socially aware in the sense that I now know what it takes to operate at the local level, but from a national framework.

Who inspires you the most to continue striving?

My parents. I see how hard my parents have worked to be where we are now. They didn’t go to college, but made sure all my siblings and I did. They made sure we stayed in school and emphasized the importance of education. I would say I get my hard-work ethic from my father, he is the hardest working person I know; if I can at least be half the man he is someday I’ll be fine with that. I get my compassion from my mom, she always taught us to give to others even with what little we had.

How has USC helped you?

USC has helped me be a believer in myself. It has challenged me as a student, as an intellectual and most importantly as a person. I feel that I have been able to grow into my dreams now, and for that I have USC to thank. In regards to my career, USC has made me aware of my interests and goals, and how best I want to pursue them.

Have you ever been discouraged? How have you overcome it?

Yes, I have. The first time I applied to USC I was denied. I felt like giving up. This was my dream, and I had failed to achieve it. I spent another year in community college, but I knew I had to work harder. I hung onto the letter and read it, everyday; I read it before every quiz and exam as well. I guess in a sense being denied, and learning to “fail” taught me what I need to do to never find myself in the same position again.

How has this publicity affected you?

Publicity has been great, people stop me on campus, say “Hi” or “Hey, you’re the guy from the White House.” I had a professor of mine tell her colleagues in a staff meeting: “He’s my student, I am teaching him right now.” I’ve never been one to boast about my accomplishments or achievements; I didn’t do any of this for the hopes of being recognized.

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