Fulfilling Future Promise: The Carlos and Deborah Hernandez Endowed Law Scholarship

Fulfilling Future Promise: The Carlos and Deborah Hernandez Endowed Law Scholarship

Like many Miami Law alumni, Carlos M. Hernandez, J.D. ’79, feels he can directly attribute much of his professional success to the generosity of donors who helped make his law school and undergraduate education possible. “My story is not unique,” he said. “I was a fairly typical student growing up in Miami... someone who would need scholarships and other financial assistance to make my future goals possible. Thankfully, I had some scholarship money available, which allowed me to attend law school here [at the University of Miami]. It made an attractive law school attainable and financially reasonable.”

It is with this grateful mindset that Hernandez and his family recently established an endowed law scholarship fund via the Carlos & Deborah Hernandez Foundation. They hope the fund will create opportunities for those who might not have otherwise been able to afford law school.

“Improving people’s lives through education is a multi-generational gift,” Hernandez shares, “especially for those from non-affluent backgrounds.

"You’re not just giving one person a chance at law school; you’re empowering them to become powerful agents for positive change in the lives of their families and their communities.”

During his years at Miami Law, Hernandez fondly recalls the rigorous curriculum, diverse educational experiences, talented faculty, and mentorship of Dean Soia Mentschikoff as instrumental in his professional development.

“Just before graduation, I had a professor who told me I wasn’t ‘anything...yet,’ but that he hoped I felt I gained the tools to become whatever I wanted. I think that preparation for the real career world is where Miami Law excels. Whether through internships, law clinics, or other experiential learning, you learn to apply an analytical mind toward success in nearly any kind of endeavor,” he said.

For Hernandez, that became a combined focus between the law and engineering, allowing him to approach business situations with an informed, thoughtful advisory perspective. That led to positions as in-house counsel and eventually as the chief executive officer of Fluor Corporation, a leading engineering and construction company.

“A legal education has broad applications in all aspects of business,” he said. “You may not be a law firm lawyer your entire career. Or, you may. At the time, it was unusual to have a combined discipline like engineering and law, but the University of Miami made it possible. It is our greatest wish that this scholarship fund attracts the kinds of students looking to pave the way for themselves in a similar manner.”

Hernandez also hopes to grow the endowment over time to serve more students with the ability to reduce or eliminate debt associated with higher education. “When you graduate without an enormous financial burden, there is more freedom to explore a greater variety of career opportunities across a wider universe of professional disciplines. You can look beyond the highest initial paycheck to pursue what really matters most to you, or where you feel you can make the greatest impact. That is what scholarships make possible—one student at a time.”

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