MELBOURNE, FLA.—Andrew Hernandez is a young man who doesn’t slow down.
The 20-year-old is nearing completion of his third year at the Florida Institute of Technology, having been named the university’s inaugural Farmer Scholar as a freshman in 2009. A Chemical Engineering major from Tampa, Hernandez successfully balances academics with campus activities.
Hernandez has served as an Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) Presidential Fellow, representing Florida Tech to Tallahassee’s legislative elite. He is completing his second year as a member of the Florida Tech Student Government Association, serving on the Academic Committee. He’s even considering a run for SGA president.
“Staying involved is both enjoyable and allows me to develop in areas other than just academics,” Hernandez said.
Biomedical research is one of Hernandez’s passions, having lobbied for the creation of a program at Florida Tech. He’s gaining important experience aiding in the university’s research of Alzheimer’s disease, studying methods to unlock the mysteries of the disorder that affects 5.4 million Americans.
Meanwhile, as his senior year looms, he’s applying for internships, understanding that a great real-world experience while he’s still a student can help pave the way for that first important job after graduation. Unless, of course, the right grad school opportunity comes first.
“I want to go as far with my education as possible before taking to my career,” Hernandez said.
And what about that run for SGA president?
“I want to help the university maintain a strong retention rate of the best students,” Hernandez said. “I’d like to work to enact a scholarship to help those students. Also, I’d like to help improve communication between the SGA and the large majority of students, and work to improve housing for students as well.”
Florida Tech’s two other Farmer Scholars are also excelling at the university.
Melbourne resident Kimberly Day maintains a 4.0 GPA in her dual major of physics and computer science. Although excelling in academics, she makes time for campus life. Day is also president of the Florida Tech chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and a staff writer on the student newspaper, the Crimson. She is able to conduct research in both of her primary fields—with Marcus Hohlmann’s high energy physics group on muon tomography and with Eraldo Ribeiro’s computer vision group.
Cape Coral resident Jacob Dufault, just completing his first year at Florida Tech, continues to pursue his passion for his major, computer science. Maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he finds fun as well as learning in the Association for Computing Machinery and robotics campus organizations. Though just a freshman, Dufault currently conducts research in the BioComplex Laboratory under Ronaldo Menezes. One of his projects is citizen science research.
The Farmer Scholar Program provides a full four-year scholarship to be awarded annually to a Florida resident and high school graduate. Included in the scholarship are all tuition and university fees, a room in Harris Village’s Farmer Hall, the regular university meal plan, and the opportunity to participate in the Oxford Study Abroad program.
Each subsequent fall semester, another incoming student is selected until, by the fourth year, four students will be enrolled at Florida Tech as Farmer scholars. Phillip W. Farmer, retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of Harris Corp., donated $1.5 million to establish this endowed scholarship.
Cutline: Farmer Honors—(left to right) Andrew Hernandez, Phil Farmer, Kimberly Day, Jacob Dufault and Jeanne Farmer.