Yaida Hernandez has served her country for the last seven years and has no intention of stopping even as she works towards her nursing degree from St. Francis College.
A sergeant in the Army, Yaida enrolled in St. Francis in fall 2019. She came to SFC with an associate's degree from American Military University, and was able to transfer some credits to give her a jumpstart on her SFC education.
Yaida grew up on Staten Island, where she lives today, and graduated from New Dorp High School.
St. Francis College awarded Yaida its first Tom Brokaw Veterans Scholarship. Established when Tom Brokaw was honored at SFC's Charter Award Dinner, the Scholarship is awarded to student veterans or students from military families in tribute to the revered journalist's leadership and excellence in his field, as well as his steadfast support of those that serve and preserve the freedoms of our nation.
In recognition of Veterans Day, Yaida reflected on her military service and joining the SFC family.
How did you choose St. Francis College?
I was looking for a school that was small and would fit my needs as a non-traditional student. I also wanted a school that offered a nursing program. When my friend told me that St. Francis had a good nursing program, I decided to attend.
Why did you enlist in the military?
After graduating from high school in 2013, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study. I felt it would be nice to serve in the military, as the first generation [in my family to serve]. I decided to enlist. I left for basic training in October 2013. I served for six years and I just got out last year, 2019, but I'm still in the reserves.
Initially, when I enlisted, I just wanted something different. And now, I like being in the military. I like having that in my life. So that's why I decided to join the reserves.
What has been most memorable about your military service so far?
Being able to travel, getting to know different cultures and meeting new people. I've been to South Korea, Kuwait, and
I was stationed in Hawaii for four years.
What's the most important lesson learned from your military service?
Always keep going. No matter how hard things get, always remain resilient.
What's been the best part of your St. Francis College experience so far?
I really like that the classes are small. I feel like I get more one-to-one interaction than I would being in a huge classroom.
How is it being a military service member at SFC?
Overall, SFC has been helpful. They've helped with the GI bill, setting it up. There haven't been any issues.
What are your goals after graduation?
I would like to get the RN [Registered Nurse certification] and eventually the CRNA [Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists]. I plan to stay in the military as a reservist.