A Great Fit

A Great Fit

Her mother didn't finish high school, and her father had no formal education whatsoever. Yet Manuela Hernandez and her sister Sonia both earned degrees from Saint Mary's College.

“I wanted to go to college for as long as I can remember,” says Manuela, a 2000 Saint Mary's alumna and 2004 graduate of DePaul University College of Law. “Both my parents are immigrants and my father always wanted his children to get an education so that none of us would have to endure hard physical labor like he has.” She says that, while her parents emphasized the importance of good grades in primary and secondary school, they never insisted on college. That was Manuela's dream.

Growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Manuela's teachers and counselors noticed her potential from an early age. In fact, it was her high school guidance counselor that suggested Saint Mary's. “He said it would be a great fit for me.”

“I wanted to go to college for as long as I can remember,” says Manuela, a 2000 Saint Mary's alumna and 2004 graduate of DePaul University College of Law. “Both my parents are immigrants and my father always wanted his children to get an education so that none of us would have to endure hard physical labor like he has.”

Once accepted, she worked closely with the financial aid office at Saint Mary's, and “they offered me a fantastic financial package,” Manuela says. “I felt like they really wanted me to be there.”

And while Manuela, a psychology major and Spanish minor, says she got a lot out of Saint Mary's—“It was a great four years, and I'll always remember my time there very fondly”—she gave back just as much, getting involved from day one. “One of my best friends founded the Latina organization ‘La Fuerza' on campus. I was co-vice president of that group my junior year and president my senior year.” Manuela was also invited to serve on the College's Board of Trustees as the student trustee her senior year, a tremendous honor. “At a school with a more personal atmosphere, you have so many opportunities to get involved.”

At DePaul, Manuela went on to become president of the Latino Law Student Association. She now practices family law with a firm in Chicago.