BOLD Center advisor sees value in vision and community

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Students get free tutoring in the BOLD Center's Student Success Center.

For Dan Hernandez, it started when he was a young boy with a dream—the dream for a better life. This dream became a quest to someday be an engineer. Although he stumbled over various obstacles during high school and college, he learned to keep at it. And, his perseverance paid off.

Today, Hernandez (ElecCompEngr ‘90) is a successful business executive with Sykes Enterprises. He also co-chairs the college’s Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center Advisory Council. His passion for helping other young dreamers to reach their goals drives his own desire to work with BOLD Center students.

Formed in 2009 as part of a new approach toward inclusive community engagement, the BOLD Center encompasses both the former Women in Engineering and Multicultural Engineering Programs, six student societies to support the different needs of diverse engineering students, and the college’s access and recruiting initiatives—making broadening participation a core value. Combined with a dedicated leadership and support team, and academic and professional services, the BOLD Center fosters students’ success in engineering.

Hernandez, who began his career in management at U.S. West one year after earning his engineering degree, credits his personal success to his involvement with student groups such as MEP, SHPE, MAES, and UMAS—programs now under the leadership of the BOLD Center. Hernandez still values the many friendships he made through these programs.

“This is a community with a purpose. Its real value is in the sense of accomplishment that results from succeeding in common goals,” he says.

He adds that Jacquelyn Sullivan, the associate dean for inclusive excellence, and her BOLD Center team are doing a great job of focusing people on their common goals through resources offered to all students, such as free tutoring, leadership workshops, and industry networking.

Broad BOLD recruiting contributed significantly to the college’s fall 2011 record-breaking enrollment of 15.1 percent underrepresented minority students and 26.2 percent women. BOLD is also credited with the increase in average GPA of underrepresented students from 2.90 in 2009 to 3.10 in 2011, through initiatives such as the Student Success Center—a free drop-in tutoring service—paired with individual mentoring and academic advising of at-risk students. More than 70 students a day use the BOLD Center resources, including the many quiet study spaces.

Thinking back on his own life’s path, Hernandez says, “I think the key is building a compelling vision of the future, that you believe in. Then everything else becomes a building block toward that end. If you know where you’re going and you hit a stumbling block, you just keep on going.”

With such visionary advisors, the BOLD Center quickly gained traction in the college with a more diverse population of students and greater numbers of students throughout the college becoming involved each academic year.

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