Felipe Hernandez, ‘13 political science and music performance, has been named a Marshall Scholar. Together with the Rhodes Scholarship, the honor is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world, with just 40 winners each year.

There hasn’t been a Marshall Scholar recipient from UC Irvine in eighteen years, since Kelly Maglia won in 1996.

The award supports two years of study at a British university and is funded by the British government to honor the close relationship between the two countries embodied in George C. Marshall’s plan to rebuild and revitalize Europe in the wake of the World War II. Marshall Scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, seeking intellectual and personal growth through direct engagement with Britain's best academic programs.

Hernandez plans to earn two master’s degrees while in the United Kingdom: one in educational leadership, policy and development at the University of Bristol, and the other in comparative social policy at the University of Oxford. Under the guidance of renowned experts at these universities, he hopes to learn how policy can be used to reduce barriers to success for first- and second-generation immigrant students and to research the effects of policy strategy on socioeconomic mobility.

“By analyzing this complex issue through a scholarly comparative lens, combined with my work and personal experience, I will learn to develop social policies that can mobilize these communities; first in California then worldwide,” he said.

Hernandez is no stranger to the rigors of research. While at UCI, he completed two honors theses, one on the effect of the “It Gets Better Project” on suicide rates for LGBT youth, and the other on Narcocorrido music performance and culture in the Los Angeles region, which received an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grant. He participated in the Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) and the Student Achievement Guided by Experience (SAGE) Scholars Program.

In 2010, while still in college, Hernandez founded a nonprofit organization, Mentors Empowering & Nurturing Through Education (M.E.N.T.E.) to reach out to low-income, first-generation high school students and match them with currently enrolled college mentors. The goal of the organization is to encourage minority youth to enroll in college and follow their dreams. Hernandez kept in contact with his former mentees while in Colombia, where he also reached out to provide free English and leadership courses and inspiration to 65 young people.

“As a world traveler, I actively share my narrative being a first-generation Latino from a low-income community,” he said. “In Colombia, my narrative transformed my students' opinions about the USA and they further opened their minds and willingness to travel abroad and create friendships.”

Hernandez looks forward to engaging with youth in the United Kingdom as well providing language courses at the Malcolm X Community Centre and mentoring disadvantaged young people at the Leys Youth Programme.

Hernandez is a highly decorated student, having previously won the Truman Scholarship and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship at the University of Ibagué in Columbia. He has interned at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for Congresswoman Linda Sanchez and at the U.S. Department of Education for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. After returning from his Fulbright year abroad, he participated in documentary filming for Road Trip Nation Productions, interviewing successful first-generation American leaders across the country. He is currently participating in the California Capital Fellows Program in Sacramento.

-UCI Scholarship Opportunities Program

About the Scholarship Opportunities Program:
Students interested in applying for the Marshall Scholarship and other prestigious scholarships should contact UCI’s Scholarship Opportunities Program for assistance. The Scholarship Opportunities Program launched in 1990 to encourage and help UCI undergraduates win prestigious scholarships. These awards enjoy national and international recognition. The program advises candidates on applying for 12 annual awards, including the Marshall Scholarship, and provides bright and dedicated undergraduates with the communication skills -- writing, editing, public speaking and interviewing -- needed to compete successfully for top awards. Students learn how to evaluate and strengthen their talents and interests to achieve their academic and career goals. Students who utilize SOP services increase their involvement in meaningful research, service, and leadership opportunities on campus and beyond and cultivate solid relationships with faculty. The program also manages the university-level application evaluation and endorsement process for scholarships requiring nomination or endorsement. The Scholarship Opportunities Program is located in the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication in the Ayala Science Library. For more information, please visit: http://scholars.uci.edu/.


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