Growing up, Eduardo Hernandez’s parents would always ask him, “How does this work?” If he didn’t already know, he would find the answer.
That curiosity and comfort with technology eventually led to the UNT Dallas student earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Information Technology. Eduardo is among more than 660 students graduating from UNT Dallas in May 2023, the largest graduating class in the university’s history.
For many young adults walking across the commencement stage this year, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a big wrench into their higher education journey. Eduardo faced many challenges, both individual and family-related, as he navigated college and the pandemic at the same time.
When asked to name his greatest strength, without hesitation Eduardo replied, “Discipline.” It is that attribute that helped this first-generation college student overcome the obstacles that stood in his way on the path to achieving academic success at UNT Dallas.
As the only child of immigrants, Eduardo moved here with his parents from North Carolina at the age of 18, as all three sought new opportunities and greater acceptance. That was the easy part. The hard part was becoming the family’s sole provider when his father and mother both got COVID at the same time in the summer of 2020.
“I had to step up,” said Eduardo. Not only did he have to help his parents during their illness, but he also needed to pay bills and put food on the table. When a scholarship he was awarded at another college fell through because funding collapsed during the pandemic, it made matters even worse. “Everything piled up,” Eduardo said, looking back at the challenges he has faced and conquered.
As the pandemic entered its second year, Eduardo entered his first year at UNT Dallas as a transfer student. He had managed to take a few community college courses so “I didn’t lose my rhythm,” he remarked. Eduardo thrived in the small, close-knit campus environment, where “you can talk to your professors directly” he says, “instead of a teaching assistant” at other universities.
The nurturing culture at UNT Dallas helped Eduardo gain confidence and become more comfortable speaking in class. “In the beginning, I was quiet, shy,” he said. Now, through his rich experience on and off campus, Eduardo proudly talks about “taking initiative” and gaining “leadership and networking” skills.
He learned them not only through his academic studies but with valuable, hands-on training at Accenture, a Fortune 500 company known for embracing UNT Dallas students. “I’m thankful for the people I got to meet,” he said about his experience at Accenture, while an intern as part of the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program. “I feel at home” at the company, impressed by their “professionalism and diversity.”
It's a mutual feeling. Eduardo impressed the Accenture team so much, they recently offered him a full-time position as a tech analyst, starting in July. Now, as he prepares to enter a new chapter in his life, Eduardo promises to keep strong ties to UNT Dallas. He hopes the university will someday offer a master’s program in Information Technology, so he can pursue a graduate degree while growing his career at Accenture. A potential dual challenge that will certainly require… discipline.
As Spring 2023 commencement nears, we are proud to celebrate Eduardo’s accomplishments. He is the definition of a Trailblazer. And he exemplifies the university’s mission of empowering students, transforming lives and strengthening communities.