Student Spotlight: Alyssa Hernandez

Jennie Kroeger

Name: Alyssa Hernandez Major: Education Policy and Evaluation (Ph.D.) Hometown: Forest Park, Illinois

What made you choose FSU COE?
I applied to the FSU COE from a recommendation from Bill Mattera ' a graduate of the college's Higher Education program who was the residence hall director and my supervisor in undergrad. Bill was a proud Seminole during football season, which is quite noticeable at a college without a football team! The fellowship I received definitely influenced my decision, too!

Are you a member of any student/campus organizations? If so, which ones?

I am a member of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies' new student group LEARN (Leadership, Education, Activism & Research Network). I am excited to help this organization hit the ground running. I am also excited to serve as chair of the 2017-2018 College of Education Student Leadership Council, of which I was a member last year. The COE SLC has made much progress over the past two years and we hope to work even harder this year representing COE students.

What is your favorite FSU COE memory?

My favorite COE memory is the Research BootCamp offered by the Sisters of the Academy (SOTA). The BootCamp is a week-long intensive writing and research program supported by the COE and organized by Dr. Tamara Bertrand Jones. I have participated in the BootCamp twice and have learned with and from talented scholars around the country ' and I didn't even have to leave the Stone building to do it!

Tell us about your research.

I will be employing a mixed methods study on the educational experiences of youth dually served by the dependency (Department of Children and Families) and delinquency (Department of Juvenile Justice) systems. For many reasons, this population of students typically struggles in our schools. Additionally, the systems of care tasked with supporting these youth also struggle to support the whole child, including their educational development. The purpose of my research is to illuminate this population to broader audiences by highlighting youth voices and stories. Long range, I would like to help identify and advocate ways for schools to best support this population of often vulnerable students.

What's the most valuable thing you learned or experienced at FSU COE?

The most valuable thing I have experienced in my tenure at FSU COE is my own development as a scholar and person. Learning that failure is a part of the Ph.D. process is much easier to say than to experience; however, I know I am stronger because of it. I am also truly grateful for the many relationships that have budded and blossomed within my COE family.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Five years from now, I see myself excelling in a career that allows me to use my research experience to positively influence policy for especially underrepresented students.

What advice do you have for future FSU COE students?

I have three quick pieces of advice: 1) Take full advantage of all of the resources at your disposal as a student at FSU and in the COE' that's everything from fellowship application assistance through the Graduate School's Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards to research assistance at the library, and even borrowing equipment from the LRC. 2) Really take the time to get to know Tallahassee ' your new home. I encourage new students to become a real member of their local community and to realize that Tallahassee has so much to offer outside of the college and university. 3) Invest in relationships both within and outside of the college. It is easy to make friends with those around you every day, but I encourage new students to diversify their friendships and learn from others. Even if that feels uncomfortable at first, those relationships can anchor you in different ways than your cohort will.

What is something interesting that not many people know about you?

I was elected to my local school board in the south suburbs of Chicago at 18 years old and served on it for 4 years before beginning my Ph.D. at FSU.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Part of what shaped my experience in graduate school was the Florida Gubernatorial Fellows Program, an external fellowship and leadership program where fellows are placed at state agencies to experience state-level policymaking and implementation. COE's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies has had four student fellows as well as one student in the current fellowship class. When I was in the program, I was placed at the Department of Juvenile Justice. To my surprise, that experience shaped my research interests and even my dissertation!


Gov. Rick Scott and Hernandez