A leader at San Diego City College spends his days working to provide for his fellow students, although his own plans for the future may be a fleeting dream.
Ignacio Hernandez V., or “Nacho” to his friends, has been in the spotlight since he came forward as a DACA recipient in early September. “I feel like I’ve already shared my story, so what I’m doing right now is encouraging others to share their stories,” he said.
According to Hernandez V. there is strength in unity, and if more DACA recipients come forward and share their experiences, they will be able to work together to accomplish their goals and keep hope alive. He is the first in his family to pursue higher education, and he is focused on using his knowledge to help others at City College.
He came to the United States from Tijuana with his family in October, 2002, when he and his twin sister were six-years-old. He, his twin, and his older sister went through their education here in San Diego.
The first time he applied for DACA was during his senior year of high school. In the middle of her divorce from an alcoholic and abusive husband, his mother paid $3,000 to a lawyer for DACA applications for her three children. His mother, who only was in school until seventh grade, encouraged her two younger kids to finish high school and achieve their dreams.
In order to achieve his own goals and provide for his family Hernandez V. has five jobs, three of which are right here at City College. He is the Associated Student Government (ASG) president, a Student Trustee, a Peer Advocate for First Year Services (FYS), an intern for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and a security guard.
At the beginning of this semester he calculated how much he would be working, and that totaled 44 hours each week. Six weeks into the semester, he said he is clocking in much more. With his busy schedule, he only has one day to himself each week.
He applied for his DACA renewal on Sept. 19. Instead of paying for a lawyer’s assistance, Hernandez V. researched the necessary paperwork and filed everything himself. This way, his renewal cost was $495, instead of the nearly $1,000 it cost in 2013.
He said he is eligible for renewal, and is eagerly awaiting news of his status. “If my DACA is not renewed I won’t be able to work. I’ll have to resign from all the positions I have,” he said. “I will not be able to help myself and continue to go to college.”
Hernandez V. has already completed his required general education courses and the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in hopes of transferring to UCLA. If his DACA is not renewed, he said he will not have the resources to pay for rent and transportation when he transfers.
This is his third time applying for DACA so Hernandez V. now knows what to look out for. “They’re gonna send me a letter asking me for my fingerprints,” he said. “Once I get that letter, it means that I most likely got approved.”
In the meantime, he is maintaining his characteristic work ethic. “What I’ve been doing is that in three of my jobs, ASG president, Student Trustees, and FYS, I’ve been adding helping DACA students into my work,” he said. “It alleviates my stress and my anxiety.”
He got involved with student leadership last year. “Mainly, it was for me to learn the process of going to college and transferring but then at the same time I wanted to help other people who were like me, who didn’t know anything, had no one to look up to,” he said.
A Film major, Hernandez V. received an Associate’s in Liberal Arts Focus in Humanities and Liberal Science in May 2017. He intends to use film to share a message of hope. “I feel like the movies that I’ve seen have influenced me in becoming a leader and helping others,” he said. “You can teach others, share a message.”