Straight-A Latina Club, Meet Jailene Hernandez!

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Every month, we talk to remarkable young Latinas from across the country to learn about the great work they’re doing both at school and in their communities!

Straight-A Latina of the Month: Jailene Hernandez, 16

From: West New York, N.J.

Let’s start with your nationality! De donde eres?
I am a first generation American of Salvadorian descent.

What school do you attend?
Memorial High School
is located in West New York, N.J. — a school I am very proud and grateful to attend. The hallways of Memorial have witnessed my evolution day after day. With the assistance of the supportive, respectful and understanding school staff, I have flourished into the well-rounded person I have always aspired to become.

Are you a Straight-A student?
By setting myself a new goal every time I accomplish an old one, I have created an outstanding academic record. Hard work, dedication and perseverance comes with a lot of rewarding consequences. As a junior in high school, I am in the top five percent of my class with a 4.0 GPA. For motivation, I constantly say to myself: “You reap what you sow.”

What clubs are you involved in at school?
Throughout my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I ran indoor and outdoor track. Racing against talented runners enhanced my competitive drive. Also, being part of the Memorial Girls High School Track team gave me the ability to develop the characteristics of a team player.

About a year ago, I was nominated and accepted into my school’s “Metropolitan Access Project,” a proactive program with the intention of guiding students who are applying to college. In addition, I have been nominated for the Memorial High School Honor Society.

Tell us about your volunteer work!
Through my school, I had the opportunity to volunteer my services to “Casa Manito.” As a volunteer, I helped with their recreational activities. Most importantly, I spoke with them about their day many of them were so lonely. Currently, it brings me great pleasure to volunteer my services at Palisades Hospital twice a week. The volunteer work I do allows me to become aware of my compassionate side and the fact that I am willing to place someone else’s wishes before {my own}.

How many hours of studying do you do, per week?
Even with my hectic schedule, I study 15-20 hours a week. My curious mind gives me the desire to learn. I have many aspirations in life and I would like to achieve them all.

What advice do you have for other Latinas hoping to do well in school? What kinds of things can they do to get better grades if they’re struggling?
When Latinas have a challenging time juggling school, work and extra-curricular {activities}, I would advise them to position themselves in an area of the library where no one can find them unless they actually try. This “hide and seek” method is useful for all students because it minimizes distractions, allowing them to concentrate on their school work. Also, it makes a huge difference going over your notes every day instead of cramming {for} everything the night before the testThe key to success is dedication.

What colleges are you planning to apply to?

During the summer of 2015, I will be attending the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at the University of Chicago, where all expenses will be paid. Also, once I have completed the program I will be receiving college credits through George Mason University. I want to apply to the University of Chicago, NYU, and Rutgers University.

Who are the Latinas you look up to and why?
My mother is my hero. {She} began working at the age of six in El Salvador to help sustain her family since my grandfather had passed away. She sold merchandise house to house hoping to gain enough money for food. Although my mother has gone through so many hardships and difficulties, she stays optimistic. She is energetic, full of life and brightens up anyone’s day.

Do you know a Straight-A Latina? Nominate her for our site by emailing [email protected]!

Photo courtesy of Jailene Hernandez

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine,, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.