What does a woman that empowers other women look like? WEW Cosmetics had the honor of interviewing Tania Hernandez, to start off our very own “Women Empowerment” series! Tania is a prime example of a woman that empowers other women. Tania is a first-generation college graduate, and the first in her family to obtain a Bachelor’s (Criminal Justice) and Master’s degree (Counseling). Not only is Tania educationally accomplished, her personal experiences mixed with her educational accomplishments have shaped her into being the empowered, leading by example woman that she is today.
Inspired by her own biased treatment, coming from a low-income household, she was determined to turn a negative experience into a positive. In high school she recalls her experience with her school counselor, “Given that I came from a low-income household, she said ‘Well honey you can’t go to a four-year school, given that your parents can’t afford it, so why don’t you go to community college?’ At first, I didn’t know my options, I had no idea. I just knew I loved school. All it takes is one person to believe in you. For me that was my chemistry teacher Mr. Johnson. He asked me why I wasn’t applying for colleges, and when I told him my counselor said I couldn’t afford to, he told me, ‘You have the grades! You can apply to universities for free.’ During his class time, rather than doing chemistry work, he actually had me apply to the UC‘s, and CSU’s. He helped me out a lot. He was the one that motivated me and told me to apply to the schools. Thanks to him I learned there are a lot of resources for low-income households. I have made it my due diligence to share those resources that helped me.”
Tania used her personal experience to be a powerful advocate and resource at her positions at SCC Co-Chair for the Los Rios Comunidad Latinx Affinity Group, as well as Outreach Specialist at the College Assistance Migrant Program at Sacramento State for more than 2 years. “And then I was offered a position as outreach coordinator, for an academic and support program at Sac State, and I accepted it because I loved it. At the time I was working with the Latinx community and undocumented community, and one of my new peer mentors, Dr. Molina asked me, ‘Why don’t you apply for the Masters program since you are already doing the work for it?’
At first, I said ‘I don’t know it’s a lot of money, I don’t know where I’m going to get it from’-- you know, we try to put all of the excuses before we put out the I can’s. Then I decided to apply! It was a very vigorous program. When I started the Masters program I was also starting my new job, and it was hard. It was hard going to school full-time, and working full-time, but I’ve always loved challenges.”
When Tania was asked what advice, she would give for first generation students pursuing higher education she stated, “It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel confused. If you didn’t have this feeling, that would mean that you wouldn’t be stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let someone else decide your fate, or what your future journey will be. You have your own key to your future decisions, nobody else can decide your destiny.”
Her last piece of advice based on her overall journey thus far is: “Own up to your word. They say a man, (let’s go back to the sexest society that we live in) is only as good as his word. This is true for women also! If you say you’re going to do something, do it, follow up. Because people will remember the things that you don’t do, they won’t remember the things that you did. I think based on my professional experience, a good majority of the feedback that I received was: I was hard-working, reliable, and always followed through.” She also shared, right now I am experiencing imposter syndrome. I am experiencing this right as I am starting my new job. Imposter syndrome is where we think that we don’t belong somewhere, but you are there for a reason. They chose you, because you deserve to be there. Have more faith in yourself. Have your work speak for itself. Let your follow-up speak for itself.”
In Tania’s new managerial position as College & Career Readiness Program Coordinator with the Sacramento County Office of Education, she is excited to continue serving students, educators, and the community in this new capacity. Her focus in this new role is to help take away the misconception that undocumented students can’t go to college. She hopes to train counselors to become more equitable minded so they can properly help all of their students have a fair shot at pursuing higher education, regardless of their background. “I am passionate about informing students and families of the higher education opportunities and most importantly serving my Latinx community.” Within the next five years Tania hopes to enter the nonprofit world or start her own private business. Tania hopes to partner with or create a nonprofit helping Latinx families, and undocumented students have access to higher educational resources. Tania also hopes to create an environment committed to breaking down the stigma around mental health.
WEW Cosmetics thanks Tania for paving the way for so many women and taking the time to share her story with us. Follow along to read more empowering stories, as our “Women Empowerment” series continues!
"Through It All She Mastered it"
Tania obtained her Masters Degree in Counseling from the California State University in Sacramento with a 4.0 GPA! | Class of 2020 |
Tania showing her support and wearing Empowered by W.E.W. Cosmetics while in her new role as a College & Career Readiness Program Coordinator with the Sacramento County Office of Education! What a great accomplishment!
The W.E.W team is so proud of you!
Leave a comment down below and let Tania know why she inspires you to be an empowered woman