Published: Aug. 19, 2021 By

Like many college students, Giovanni Hernandez has a lot on his plate. He’s excelling in challenging engineering coursework as a civil engineering major, with an emphasis in construction engineering and management, and a 4.0 GPA. 

The dedication it takes to get a 4.0 GPA was something Hernandez did not have to do, but it was important to him because of how much he values the education he is receiving at CU Boulder.

“I'm the first one in my family to go to college,” he said. “A lot of my family in Mexico works in construction but is not well paid. I want to work as a manager and leader in construction.” 

Giovanni Hernandez and group

Above: Giovanni Hernandez, Morgan Hollenback, Emily King, and Renae Reeve.
Header: photo courtesy of Joseph Roybal Photography.

Hernandez, who moved here seven years ago, said his friends in Mexico did not have that option. 

“This is an opportunity to take advantage of everything I’ve been given.”

Hernandez is balancing  multiple scholarships, clubs and social opportunities  as well. In fact, he has eleven different scholarships with various  requirements and obligations, with  one more waiting on renewal for the upcoming school year. 

Because English is Hernandez’s second language, he decided to start out at a community college. He took general engineering classes for three years where he earned two associates degrees, one associates degree of science and one associates degree of Science with Mathematics designation. While at community college he took advanced English classes before transferring to CU Boulder.. 

Hernandez said his transition to CU Boulder wasn’t easy. On a bigger campus, with no one in his family to guide him through the challenges of college, he sought out people and places to help him find his way.  

The BOLD Center, in particular, has been a safe place for Herndandez as he navigates his way through college. He describes his experience at the BOLD Center as a place where he found community. 

“At first when I transferred to CU I felt lost, but then I got selected as a BOLD scholar, and started meeting people there,” he said. “Now I go every day and have found my family there. I go and do homework there, and the people know me really well. I like to communicate with others when I am there, increase my network and ask  any questions and express any ideas I might have.” 

Outside of BOLD, Hernandez has found several mentors that have helped guide him through college. He applied to the Kiewit Design-Build Program, a scholarship program that also pairs students with young employee mentors  at Kiewit, primarily because of the mentorship aspect. He said Jennifer Hansen, the Kiewit Design-Build Program administrator, and senior instructor Matthew Morris have also been key mentors for him.

“Giovanni is an amazing student who is thriving in our civil engineering program. It’s impressive to witness his drive and determination as he tackles so many challenges.  We’re very pleased to see him earn the recognition that he deserves“ said Matthew Morris. 

The Kiewit program has also helped him get to know other students outside of the classroom. 

“Just being in a class with someone does not make them feel like a real person,” he said “Getting to know them outside of class through the scholarship program makes it feel more like a friendship. It has been a great way to expand my network.”

Those friendships have provided balance to Hernandez’s college experience. He said he has a lot going on with his family and school, but his friends encourage him to go hiking, to take a break during their frequent study groups, to go on a walk, or to get food together. 

Hernandez has one more year to perform his balancing act before he graduates. After that, he wants to take a short break from school and work for a general contractor. But he does plan to eventually get his master’s, maybe on the design side of construction.