On September 12, during the Reedley College Scholarship Reception and Awards Ceremony, Hernandez earned one of the top scholarships given within the State Center Community College District (SCCCD), despite almost not attending college at all.
Hernandez, was awarded the 2018 Dr. Tom Crow Distinguished Student Scholarship, a scholarship that is only awarded to one student each year from the entire SCCCD student population of more than 40,000 students. Dr. Crow is a former Reedley College president and SCCCD chancellor. The scholarship in his name is awarded to a student who has academic excellence, outstanding leadership, and service to the district and community, qualities many admire in Dr. Crow himself.
Hernandez graduated from Kingsburg High School, and she originally planned to attend UC Santa Cruz after graduation. But life threw her a few curve balls. She was having severe mini strokes and was hospitalized. She was later diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a rare condition in which the walls of the carotid arteries thicken and the arteries narrow, restricting or blocking the blood flow to the brain. It is a disease that mostly affects children and adolescents. To elevate problems caused by the disease, she had surgery, a bypass in her head to help the blood flow.
After a long recovery, she enrolled at Reedley College where she has made a huge impact. She is currently a Pete P. Peters Honors student majoring in English. In her time at Reedley College, she has led tutoring groups for her Honors political science class, assisted the college’s Literary Arts Club, was a member of the Green Club, served as a tutor in the Reading and Writing Center, and worked as student aide in the Library. Her writing has appeared the college’s literary publication Symmetry and in the Reading and Writing Center’s newsletter Paper Jam.
“Yaritza Hernandez is that rare commodity: a community college student who could have easily gone to any of the finest four-year universities in the country,” said one of her English instructors David Borofka. “As a reader of literature, her insights are acute and finely nuanced, and her observations are rendered in a prose that is as well-crafted as that of a much older writer.”
Spring 2018 is Hernandez’s last at Reedley College, and she plans to transfer to Columbia University in New York. “I want to get into book publishing,” she says.
Hernandez was in two of Kate Watts’ classes. “She is fairly quiet in class because she is shy, but she overcomes this with effort,” said Watts. “She always asks questions about what she does not understand. She never misses class. Her finished writing is almost flawless.”