Former university student now heads ASU

By Kevin Camargo

After serving as a senator, secretary and vice president for the Associated Students Union, Monique Allyson Hernandez is now the President.

She found East Los Angeles College as her home, after having trouble finding one.

Hernandez attended Mount Saint Mary’s University in the 2014 Spring semester after graduating from Whittier High School.

After having financial issues, Hernandez decided to leave MSMU to attend ELAC.

“I was going to come to ELAC in the spring, but I was really sad and down after leaving (MSMU). Then I had to pick myself up,” Hernandez said, “Honestly, I love ELAC. Maybe there’s a reason why I came to ELAC.”

Hernandez said that the transition from high school to college, and from MSMU to ELAC, is what shaped her to be the person she is now.

Hernandez said that her greatest support in the ASU office is secretary Summer French.

“I believe that dropping out of a university to go to a (junior college) is not a bad thing at all. Everyone has their own capabilities and she was able to realize them sooner,” French said.

One thing that Hernandez misses from MSMU is the commute, where she was within walking distance of her classes.

Now, she commutes from Whittier and understands the struggle other students have.

Preserverance pays—Associated Students Union President Monique Hernandez, middle, addresses the members in attendance at the ASU meeting on March 23. c/n Jerry Flores

“I feel that she has really grown and become perfectly fit for the presidential spot. She showed me how to do my position and has even helped me with it,” French said.

French has known Hernandez since May of 2017, when French first came to ELAC.

Hernandez was born and raised in Riverside, until her family lost their house.

She then moved in with family and friends.

Due to the change, Hernandez attended three high schools: Patriot High School in Riverside, Schurr High School in Montebello and Whittier High School in Whittier.

Hernandez left Patriot High School twice. She went from Patriot to Schurr and went back to Patriot again.

“I said bye to my friends. When I came back, it was just really hard because I knew I was going to leave soon, so no one talked to me,” Hernandez said.

By the time Hernandez enrolled at Whittier High School, she was beginning her second semester as a freshman.

“I felt like a junior by the time I was in (my) second semester as a freshman,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez lived with her aunt and parents in the summer when they lost their house.

She and her sister were not finished with high school yet and her older brother had left for the army.

Hernandez and her sister, however, wanted to stay in Riverside.

While her parents moved to Montebello with her mother’s family, Hernandez and her sister stayed in Riverside to live with her mother’s friend, husband and two daughters.

“We were in a little house, so we would sleep on the floor. I would have to wake up at four in the morning to beat everyone to the shower,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez and her sister lived there for around a month, until her mother’s friend said she could not take care of them anymore.

With so much going on, Hernandez said she did not care about her high school experience and just wanted to graduate to move on.

After moving out of her mom’s friend’s house, the sisters moved in with her parents and her grandparents and slept on the floor again.

This is when Hernandez enrolled at Schurr High School.

“The struggles she went through during high school really helped her become more independent. It was part of the reason she was able to take on the presidential role. She became her own leader,” French said.

Hernandez said it was a difficult transition from the Inland Empire to the Los Angeles County, especially because Montebello was more crowded and full of apartments.

“It makes me a person who understands people. It makes me see life in a simpler way,” Hernandez said. “I like the person I became. Hopefully the more I am here at ELAC, the more I change and grow.”

Hernandez said that she hopes students get involved and know that ASU has many benefits and resources for students to explore what the school has to offer.

She also said that she wants to interact with more students in events and meetings.

Hernandez plans on transferring to University of California, Berkeley or University of Southern California, and get involved in the student government at the school she will transfer to.

“ELAC is a home to me and when I leave I want it to be a home for everyone else. I know ELAC can be a really great place to be your stepping stone,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that she hopes students remember that everyone is at ELAC for a different reason, and to keep hold of that reason until they accomplish their goals.

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