Career Conversations with Héctor Hernández ’19 BA

March 11, 2021

In the second session of the Career Conversations series by The Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, Yale College alumnus, Héctor Hernández ’19 BA, spoke on his journey as an undergraduate at Yale, discovering his academic and professional interests, and gave advice for students interested in pursuing post-graduate opportunities in Europe. The Career Conversations series is a collaborative effort between CLAIS, European Studies Council, and its associated undergraduate fellows’ networks that has partnered with the Jackson Institute’s Global Health Studies program and Yale-NUS College. (View Video)

Hernández was born in Bogotá, Colombia but raised in Dallas, Texas. Growing up, Hector always thought about returning to Colombia and how he could dedicate his academic and professional endeavors to learning about his country of birth. With this focus in mind, Hernández tried many different academic pathways at Yale, beginning in environmental engineering and environmental studies, then economics, and finally landing in philosophy. Hernández attributes courses such as Latin American Intellectual Debates with Professor Moira Fradinger with helping him realize that he was interested in the entirety of Latin America, not just Colombia, as a “concept and an idea that is constantly being rethought and contested.” 

As he continued in his philosophy track in his junior and senior years at Yale, Hernández was encouraged by many of his professors to learn a new language while in college and so, in line with his philosophy interests, Hernández decided to learn German so that he could read texts in their original editions.

From this introduction to the German language and in studying in Berlin in the Summer of 2018, Hernández’s interest in Germany grew. It was not until his senior year that he realized that through his classes, he had unintentionally satisfied all of the requirements for the German Studies major and only needed a senior essay to complete a double major. Hernandez wrote his German Studies senior essay, “El Esmudge”, combining his interests in both Latin America and Germany.

In his senior year, while visiting family in Colombia, Hernández unexpectedly saw advertisements for the DAAD program (Deutcher Akademischer Austauschdienst), a German scholarship program which funds both research projects and graduate study in Germany in the arts, social sciences, and humanities, and natural sciences for foreign students. Hernandez applied to this program as well as several graduate programs in Germany and was ultimately accepted to DAAD and the Master’s program in Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies at Freie Universitat Berlin. 

Though Hernández’s graduate program is public and free, DAAD covers his cost of living, transportation, and subsidizes his language courses. At Freie Universitat Berlin, Hernandez is in the Gender Relations, Ways of Life, and Transformations specialized track, currently working on his MA thesis on masculinity and the figure of the “New Man” in Cuba. 

Hernández concluded his talk by providing information, advice, and resources for students interested in pursuing further study or work opportunities in Europe. Hernández is currently working on finishing his Master’s program in Germany and has lived there since his graduation from Yale in 2019. Starting in Fall 2019, Hernández will be a PhD student in Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Written by Krista Arellano, Yale College Class of 2021