Senior ethnic studies, political science, and Spanish triple major Arelí Hernández has won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English and work on a community-based project in Tunja, Colombia, starting this July.
The award is Hernández’s second in the Fulbright program. She was one of only four Americans chosen to participate in a three-week summer Fulbright program after her sophomore year, during which she studied in London at SOAS University of London, a leading institution specializing in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. She took a course called “NGOs in Social Movements, the Politics of Protest and Change.”
“That was really amazing because our class was made up of activists from all over the world involved in many different social movements, and together we got to analyze nonprofits from a critical perspective,” she said.
As a junior, she studied abroad in Ecuador with a nonprofit that helps integrate refugee and immigrant populations, largely from Venezuela and Colombia. The work included lobbying for ordinances and government policies, organizing events to celebrate diversity and culture, and shadowing a social worker in various capacities.
She also participated in the University’s Global Fellows program, where she interned in Kadapa, India, at the Aarti Home for Girls, helping with fundraising, interviewing public officials, and working with the young residents.
Hernández is a LEAD Scholar at SCU, a program for students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year college. “The LEAD program has been instrumental in me surviving college, and pushing me to think of things and spaces I could occupy that I normally wouldn’t think of—like the Fulbright program,” she said.
She was a Student Ambassador, and a member and then co-chair of Ballet Folklórico de SCU. “It has been really empowering as a student of color at a predominantly white institution to have a sense of pride in myself and my culture,” she said.
The oldest of four, Hernández thanks her family and hometown community in Napa Valley for their constant support. “As the daughter of two incredibly hard-working immigrants from México, I am so thankful for all that my family has taught me and I am excited to continue seeing the fruits of their labor come to life,” said Hernández.
With Fulbright, she will be an English teaching assistant at Universidad de Boyacá in Tunja, Colombia. For her community-based project, she hopes to work on reintegrating migrants returning home, such as the ones she got to know in Ecuador, or working with youth and dance if possible.
After her Fulbright year, Hernández plans to continue her schooling and research in ethnic studies. “I’m interested in the intersection of gender and migration,” she said. Additionally, Hernández said she’s interested in doing “research into the value of implementing ethnic studies more into our K-12 systems here in the U.S.”
About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. For further information please visit eca.state.gov/fulbright.
About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see www.scu.edu.