Student Stories: Jorge Hernandez

Jorge Hernandez

Major: Construction Management

Jorge Hernandez’s GPA was not ideal when he finished high school.

“I had to get my priorities straight after high school,” he explained. “I was still a bit immature and knew that I wouldn’t give it my all if I had gone to a four-year institution.”

So while College of DuPage was an easy choice, based upon its affordability and flexibility, Hernandez knew it would help him get on the right track.

“COD gave me the opportunity to grow and enhance my education despite my mistakes from high school,” he said. “I was an honors society member and a scholarship recipient, thanks to COD.”

Scholarships at COD

During his time at COD, Hernandez received a $2,500 Power Construction Company Scholarship. In addition to financially helping to pay for college, the scholarship was also a source of motivation.

“This scholarship meant everything to me – not in the sense of the actual, tangible scholarship, but more in the sense of the meaning behind it,” he said. “This scholarship meant that my determination and persistence paid off. This scholarship meant that I could go places and have a bright future ahead of me.”

Hernandez majored in construction management and transferred to Illinois State University, where he graduated cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in construction management. While at ISU, Hernandez received two scholarships: the Charles “Ed” Francis Scholarship, a department-wide technology award worth $1,000, and the Herb Kreisman Award/Scholarship from the Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago, worth $2,500. He also was the president of the National Association of Home Builders – ISU chapter and president of the Construction Management Student Association.

“Before graduating, I had committed with Holder Construction Company (based out of Atlanta, Georgia) to begin work immediately upon graduation,” he said. “The first project I was assigned to was a 300,000 square-foot, 12-story call center for State Farm in Tacoma, Wash., where I was an office engineer. Although I was new to the industry and a recent college graduate, I was given a lot of responsibility and played an important role on the State Farm project.”

I can’t stress enough how much College of DuPage impacted my young career. The atmosphere and student body aided significantly in the transformation from high school to college.

Jorge Hernandez

Next he found himself in Omaha, Neb., building a 183,000 square-foot data center for Travelers Insurance. After wrapping up that project, Hernandez relocated to El Paso, Texas, to build a 150,000 square-foot call center for ADP. He was in charge of overseeing all mechanical, electrical and plumbing operations. Then he returned to the Chicago area as a senior project engineer working on a data center for DuPont Fabros in Elk Grove Village.

Looking for a more permanent home base, Hernandez joined Becknell Industrial, a Chicago design/build real estate developer with projects around the country. 

Hernandez considers himself blessed to have a rewarding career, which he obtained through his education at College of DuPage and Illinois State University.

“I can’t stress enough how much College of DuPage impacted my young career. The atmosphere and student body aided significantly in the transformation from high school to college. The teachers were phenomenal, which was probably the best part of my COD experience. If not for the encouragement I received from the staff, I don't think I would be in the position where I am now. With the help of COD, I now know that time is the only thing keeping me from achieving my personal goals.

“Owning my own construction firm would be the ultimate bliss – it would be pretty awesome to see my name on the front of a building every morning. Of course, making tons of money wouldn’t hurt either. If you're going to dream, dream big. A successful career starts with the right mindset and a solid foundation. It may not always be easy, but nothing in life worth chasing ever is.”

Learn more about the Construction Management program at College of DuPage