Hernandez Shines in First Year as Inaugural Farmer Scholar

MELBOURNE, FLA.— Andrew Hernandez is a young man with a lot to do. The 19-year-old Florida Institute of Technology sophomore was named the university’s first Farmer Scholar in 2009 and has not slowed down since.

“I enjoy being involved,” Hernandez said. “Florida Tech has so many great opportunities for students to have diverse experiences and learn new things—isn’t that what college is all about?”

The Tampa, Fla., native has joined a number of organizations in his first year, including the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, where he was selected as public relations chairman, and the Student Government Association, where he was elected a senator and appointed chairman of the academic committee. He represented Pike and Greek Life as a member of the Greek Life Task Force and more recently worked as a Panther Prep Leader during this semester’s Fall 2010 Orientation, sharing his experience and enthusiasm for Florida Tech with the then-incoming class of 2013. Hernandez managed all this while maintaining a near-perfect 3.9 grade point average.

“I really like the size of Florida Tech,” Hernandez said. “It’s small enough that you can get involved and make a difference.”

“I like how the university is growing so fast,” Hernandez added, referring to Florida Tech’s academic expansions, new construction and addition of a football program. “I feel it will become a nationally recognized and well-known university similar in reputation to universities like MIT.”

A Chemical Engineering major, Hernandez is particularly passionate about Florida Tech’s efforts to launch a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate program. He began lobbying for the program in the spring semester of 2010.

“I did not have the opportunity available to me as a freshman to pursue my interest in Biomedical Engineering through an undergraduate program at Florida Tech,” Hernandez said. “I want to make that opportunity available to all Florida Tech students by helping to bring a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate program to our university. I believe it will make Florida Tech a stronger competitor with other leading national universities.”

This summer, Hernandez joined Florida Tech’s Oxford Study Abroad Program in England along with a brief visit to Ireland. From studying the works of Oxford authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to a brisk bike trek through the English countryside, he said the trip was a life-changing experience.

“It really broadened my perspective,” Hernandez said. “It changed my idea of people, and challenged my preconceived notions. I was really gratified to see how friendly and open everyone was.”

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.

“I’m so grateful to Mr. Farmer for this blessing and to the university for continuing to provide me with the opportunities to take part in the growth and future of Florida Tech,” Hernandez said. “I want my example to inspire others to take advantage of their own blessings and opportunities for their own good and the good of others. We should work towards a selfless greater good for all.”

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