Certificate in Faculty Preparation Student Spotlight: Isabel Hernandez, MSW

Isabel Hernandez

Please tell us about yourself.

Hello. My name is Isabel Hernandez, a bilingual and bicultural licensed clinical social worker. I've had the privilege to provide mental health support and awareness in the rural areas of the Central Valley in California for over ten years now. 

What motivated you to enroll in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation: Teaching in Higher Education program?

In preparation for the next chapter of my career, I wanted to do something meaningful and find a way to connect with the next generation of mental health advocates. I was looking for a program that would fit my busy schedule and help to develop a set of skills for teaching. This program seemed attuned to the working professional, with enough rigor to push me outside my comfort zone. 

How has the program positively impacted your personal and/or professional life? 

Personally, I find any kind of learning energizing, because it opens so many possibilities and ideas. Professionally, I was able to put my newfound knowledge into practice immediately, especially in my role as a field instructor to social work graduate students. It also helped me to better organize presentations to be more engaging and goal focused. 

What are your goals after completing the certificate?

My ultimate goal with certification is to teach a class or two at the local community college. I enjoy my full-time position providing mental health services, but I want to add teaching to my career. As an immigrant from Mexico and being a first generation female in higher education, the pathway was not easy. But thanks to great instructors and mentors, I was able to attain a masters level education. I believe teaching is a way to pay it forward to the next class of first gen students, and contribute to increasing minority representation in higher education. 

What were/are the most memorable growth moments for you in the program?

Being back in school was a challenge in itself. Being challenged to write my own syllabus and teaching philosophy, and develop college level assignments seemed like intimidating tasks. However, as we went through the assignments and learned about inclusivity and universal learning designs, I became more excited to actually develop my own course. These assignments reinforced my desire to teach, and were reassuring that I was on the right track to contribute to equity for first generation students in college. 

What else would you like to share about your experience as a student in the Certificate in Faculty Preparation program?

I was nervous about taking on a new project, because life is so busy. I already work full time and have two school aged children. I took it one week at a time. I gave myself grace and patience, and allowed myself to take this for fun with no strings attached. Interestingly, doing something that I love and that I find meaningful has brought more energy and excitement to all the things I already do.