Brianna Hernandez

Class Year



Bensenville, Illinois


Social Work





“There are so many professors who have played a bigger role in my life than just the word ‘teacher’ can ever describe. They’ve each taught me something that I’ve gotten to take with me on my own personal journey.”

Brianna Hernandez, ’20

Career goal

“I’m hoping to be admitted into a graduate program where I can continue my social work education and further my knowledge of the clinical aspects of social work. My goal is to become an LCSW, helping children who have gone through trauma and who struggle with their mental wellness.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“Professor Danielle Geary, the best advisor and role model in so many ways, has taught me to fight for what I want and be resilient no matter what life throws at you. Professor Rebecca Hornung taught me to think outside of my bubble and how to think critically, a hard skill which I’m still trying to perfect. Additionally, Professor Debra Minsky-Kelly has been the best teacher. She really makes sure we understand the material and she always gives constructive feedback which is motivating.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class I’ve taken at Carthage was Trauma Across Social Contexts with Professor Debra Minsky-Kelly because it gave me a direction I want to go into for the future and I was so intrigued by it. I could probably go on and on about it, but if you have any interest in psychology, biology, or just the human brain in general, I would take this class! So many people have experienced some type of trauma. In this class, you’ll read many case studies showing the different types of trauma, how it affects people, and how it can be treated.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class has definitely been my statistics class with Professor Tian Tian because I am terrible with numbers and analysis! Even though it was hard for me, if she saw I was struggling, she always made herself available to spend extra time with me and go over things I wasn’t getting.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I was a social work intern at Janes Elementary. It was there that I was able to see how kids develop in their social environments and support them when they were struggling academically or socially. Being in a school environment all my life, I thought I knew exactly who these kids were, but this internship exposed me to the challenges I wasn’t aware that kids face today.

“I was also able to intern in a more clinical setting at Hospice Alliance. This was a challenging experience for me because of the wide range of emotions patients and their families were going through during the end stages of life, but I learned many valuable lessons and skills that will help me in the future, and I’m glad to have been able to meet so many amazing people.”


“I’m so thankful to have received the Springfield Scholarship because education is so important to my family and it means the world to me that Carthage has put faith in me and wants to see me succeed. This scholarship is so generous and I can’t be grateful enough.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“All of my favorite memories definitely have to be from freshman year — that’s when I met and lived with my best friend. I remember it feeling like a sleepover every night — staying up way too late laughing and trying to figure out college together, going to football games, sledding after a huge blizzard, dances, ordering pizza late at night, having random dance parties in our tiny dorm packed with too many people — those are the nights I won’t forget for years down the line.

Favorite spot on campus

“If I’m trying to get work done, the basement of the library is my favorite place to escape because it’s silent and everyone is so focused. Otherwise, my favorite place would have to be down by the beach. It just feels like I’m in a whole other world, and being able to relax and hear the waves is amazing.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The biggest surprise for me has been how much I’ve grown from when I first began my social work journey to now going into my senior year. Not only have I matured but I’ve grown in confidence academically and personally. Additionally, just how close I’ve gotten to my peers has been a beautiful surprise. We’re fortunate enough to have each other in most of the same classes as a cohort and it’s really nice to lean on people who understand your workload and experiences with your internships — that support is huge for me.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“I think my 8-year-old self would be pretty happy with the career path I’ve chosen. From a young age, I was so interested in people and how everyone was so different from each other and had their own personalities and quirks. I was an empathetic little kid who loved talking to all the kids in my class. I always asked a million questions so I think that’s pretty fitting for someone who wants to work in this field.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“If I could give some advice to someone who is considering social work as a major it would be to go into it with an open mind. You might have expectations of what social work will be, but I promise it’s so much more than your expectations. If you want to challenge yourself, the professors make it their mission for you to think deeply about yourself and find who you really are as a person. If you want to make a positive change in this world but have no idea where to begin, this major will help you find and develop the skills and confidence to do so. I know this because it’s helped me in that way and I’m forever changed for the better because of this program.”

Why Carthage?

“I chose Carthage because it was the perfect distance away from home where I felt like I had freedom without being too far away from my family. The small class sizes also drew me in. I appreciate having the opportunity to know my teachers and have strong relationships with them in and out of the classroom. That lake view isn’t too bad either.”