Spotlight Story

24 August 2022

Clara Hernandez: Making Experiences into Opportunities of Growth

Category: Spotlight Story

Clara Hernandez was born and raised in Yonkers, New York. Clara’s passion for helping others led her to find opportunities in social work. Most recently, she began managing cases related to the resettlement of refugees into the United States and other social work. Because of these experiences, she felt the calling to move to the Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland area (DMV) to go to law school. She needed a change. She needed someone to take a chance on her.


Clara first discovered the Hispanic Access Foundation’s MANO Project through research on nonprofit organizations within the Washington, DC area. She wanted to see how she could make a difference from a local perspective.

“I took a chance and applied. I applied thinking ‘Even though they work more in the environmental realm versus social service. It will get my feet wet and learn more about the local communities.’”

While also doing case management at her previous nonprofit, she stood as the face of the outreach program which gave her the skills to do stakeholder outreach and engagement. This would help her obtain her internship at Patuxent Research Refuge as much of her work involved engaging the Latino community within the Laurel area.

For Clara, this summer has been one of growth and new opportunities.

“This summer has been all just about checking off checklists, growing professionally, academically, and having a bunch of fun. I have had so much fun because the work environment has been so unique.”

From networking with her summer cohort peers to FWS staff, she has enjoyed getting to know everyone that she has encountered throughout her 12-week internship. She appreciated the flexible work environment that the internship provided her. She also discovered that public health is also intertwined with environmental policy. While she didn’t have the academic background in environmental science, she was able to apply her background in social sciences to do outreach in a meaningful way.

“I’m super grateful that Hispanic Access and the Fish and Wildlife Service took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to learn.”

Now, she is going to be working with One Montgomery Green full-time for a year as an Outreach Specialist in Wheaton while also working part time managing cases related to unaccompanied youth in the Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland area. She hopes to finish her last semester of graduate school with a capstone project and start her pursuit in law school.

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Clara Hernandez, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Phone: (202) 640-4342

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