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Education creates opportunities for Juan Hernandez


Custodian Juan Hernandez is proud of his work at the college. You can often see him walking the hallways on the lookout for something that needs to be addressed. Sometimes it's the trash outside or the floors in the hallways. No matter what, Hernandez is doing something about it-and has been doing that since starting at ECC in 1994.

While holding a full-time job makes him proud, there's something else that gives him that same feeling: His associate degree he earned from the college in 2007. Inspired by the students he saw daily working to achieve their academic dreams, Hernandez worked during the day and took classes in the evening to earn his degree. He even gave the commencement address.

We caught up to Hernandez to ask some questions about himself and his work at ECC. Here are his answers.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

I am a full-time custodian and my job is to keep the campus in a good appearance. I also assist the student clubs by providing them with the tables and chairs they need to get their events done, work in conjunction with the Facilities Rental Department by completing all work orders they request on a daily basis, and follow up all assignments and requests regarding ECC graduations in order to provide a good clean environment for the graduates and their families. I am glad I work with a great team. 

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

Working and taking classes during the evenings to get my associate degree. I graduated with honors from ECC and also gave the ceremony's commencement speech.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

Well in my personal opinion, I would talk to some students and ask them what will help them to be more successful in college. What do they think about the security environment around the campus while they are in the classrooms? By being in direct contact with the students, it makes them feel like they matter.

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

No one in mind. Oh, wait! Maybe Sylvester Stallone. I like the action.

What's on your “bucket list?”

I hope someday to take a vacation to Europe. I hope to be at the grand FIFA World Cup final.

What's one fact we should know about you?

When I came to the U.S., my first job was in a McDonald's restaurant. I worked there only for one day because I got to cook pancakes during the peak breakfast hours. The pancakes were not round and also came out burnt. I told my supervisor, "This is not my kind of work. Thanks for your job opportunity."

Today, I cook for my grandson and my pancakes are very delicious.

What's something about your job that others should know?

Besides cleaning and keeping the college in good cleaning condition, I am the person in charge to make sure the set ups for all the events on campus are done. I work with my co-workers as a good team to complete all the daily work order requests.

What was your favorite class in school?

Art and dance classes when I was in college in Mexico. History and speech classes when I was at ECC.

What was your first job out of school?

After I graduated from college in Mexico I worked as an art teacher in a rural school. In the U.S. I worked at McDonald's, but you already know the story about that.  After that, I worked third shift in a factory for six months, then I took a job as a teacher assistant for the bilingual program at School District U-46 for eight years. Finally, 22 years ago, I took a job as a full-time custodian here in ECC.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

This place gave me the opportunity to work and study at the same time to complete my associate degree in arts. I fit in because the diversity and cultural issues around campus make me feel like I am a part of this family.





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