Paducah Tilghman High School senior Dana Hernandez is interested in studying law in the future, and perhaps one day practicing as a criminal defense or immigration attorney, working to help others in need.
“After junior year, I just really became involved in following government and stuff. I feel like everyone deserves to be represented equally in America, regardless of whatever crime they did because that does not take away their rights,” she said.
“That’s kind of why I looked into criminal justice and criminal defense. You have to work together with other people, other aspects like forensic scientists — and so, I find that fascinating.”
As for immigration law, the 17-year-old Hernandez noted her parents are immigrants, and she thinks there’s a need for help with immigration, and she’s “always liked helping people.” She also expressed an interest in international relations and working for a nonprofit, such as the American Red Cross, in order to help communities, like when natural disasters happen.
Following high school, Hernandez said she will be the first in her family to attend a four-year university and it’s something that means a lot to her.
“School has always been really important to my parents and myself,” she said. “ ... It’s been one of my biggest goals to graduate college. I literally thank my parents everyday because I feel like they instilled that hard work ethic that I have, to be able to go to college.”
Hernandez, daughter of Alma Lemuz and Isidro Hernandez of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Every Tuesday, The Sun publishes articles on area high school seniors who were chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will name one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
In high school, Hernandez has a weighted cumulative GPA above 4.0, and has stayed busy with extracurricular activities, and part-time employment.
She’s editor-in-chief for the school newspaper, “The Tilghman Bell,” and helped start the school’s “United Voices” club with a friend. She’s involved in mock trial, student council, sustainability club, and is president of the Rotary Interact Club. Hernandez is a student representative for the Paducah Public Schools Racial Equity Initiative, and a member of National Honor Society. She previously played on the girls’ varsity soccer team.
In other activities, Hernandez attended the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program at Centre College and participates in the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce’s Youth LEAD program. She was also accepted in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s “R2L NextGen” summer program.
“I have people that I look up to and my parents are (some) of those people, but it’s hard to find people, like politicians, or like people in the media — that may not represent my ideal values, but at least like represent my culture or like my heritage. I was able to learn that there are opportunities for me out there, so like I shouldn’t shy away from that,” she said, on the CHCI program.
One thing she’s proud of is spending time with friends and family in Mexico.
“From a young age, I’ve been taught like anything that you want to do, you can do if you set your mind towards it,” she said.
By: Kelly Farrell