When Maria Hernandez imagines her future, she sees the crimes she will solve and the nation she will safeguard as a member of the FBI.
“I like to set high standards for myself and the FBI is the Harvard of police,” explained the Brooklyn native, who will graduate from SUNY Broome this may with a degree in Criminal Justice – Police. “I want to aim for that.”
Her mentors at SUNY Broome helped set her on the right course, including Criminal Justice and Emergency Services professors Kerry Weber, James Sheerin and Darin Schmidt. Instructor Eric Kelley’s class in criminal investigations was among her favorite, particularly the lab-work that gave students hands-on experience in the field, sometimes in unconventional ways.
“You had to do surveillance at the mall; we had to follow the professor’s daughter and her boyfriend without them noticing,” she recalled.
She’s poised to take the next step toward her career dream by transferring to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
While the world doesn’t know her as Agent Hernandez quite yet, the campus community already knows Maria as a dedicated resident assistant (RA) in the Student Village, SUNY Broome’s residence hall. Like many downstate students, Maria chose SUNY Broome in part to live independently away from home and receive the full college experience.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. Early on, she called her mother every day and dealt with roommate issues. A room switch left her much happier, and she eagerly lent a hand around the Village.
Other RAs noticed her efforts and encouraged her to join their ranks. Maria is glad she did.
“I really like it because I can connect with the residents and get to know them. Those are skills I know I will need later in my career,” she said.
And just like the RAs who encouraged her to join their ranks, Maria does the same for her residents, suggesting that they tap into their own leadership abilities and become RAs themselves.
A fun side note: Maria has been a big fan of K-pop – South Korean pop music – since the seventh grade. She has found a friend and listening companion in fellow RA Minhyung Park, an international student from South Korea who is helping her study the language. One day, Maria would love to visit the country – and maybe grab a real K-pop concert.
“If you can listen to a song in a different language and appreciate it, that’s the best thing,” Maria said.