10:32 AM

Hernandez Sisters Say UST Was Their Mother’s Wish for Them

That the Hernandez sisters—Alexandria Hernandez ’04, MSA ’12, and Leandra Hernandez, Ph.D (BA ’08) —would one day be Celts was a foregone and happy conclusion.

Leandra said, “I feel like University of St. Thomas was an institution in our family. Our mom, Ernestine Hinojosa Hernandez, went to UST and wanted her daughters to experience a great education with a Catholic foundation.”

A natural communicator, Leandra majored in that field and today is an Assistant Professor of Communications at Utah Valley University.

Older sister Alexandria, the one with the business focus, manages HR for Luby’s, the well-known multi-brand restaurant company.

Each alumna credits UST with creating the optimum environment for learning.

“I loved the small class sizes and the accessibility of the professors,” Alexandria said. “I remember how common it was to chitchat with a priest or nun over a glass of tea or Coke. They were always on campus if I needed their counsel.”

Both highlighted the philosophy and theology courses, which, they say, shaped how they view the world in terms of ethics and gave them a winning edge for their careers.

“In the communications discipline, communication ethics has become a sub-field,” Leandra explained. “I’m the only one out of 35 professors with that background, so I teach ethics with its relationship to all sorts of careers. UST literally changed my life, shaped how I approach teaching now and influenced the type of school I wanted to work in.”

Alexandria discovered that the Celt family has a long reach when she learned that her boss is a UST grad. On the personal side, Leandra met her future husband Pedro Ortega, BBA ’08, at UST.

Like so many Celts, the sisters give back to the community. Their favorite cause is the Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans (AAMA), co-founded by their father, Froilan Hernandez, in 1970. In fact, Alexandria and Leandra are co-chairing AAMA’s 50-year fundraising gala, “Illumine Celebration/Celebracion de Iluminacion,” October 1, 2021, at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“It will be a black-tie event with dinner, auctions and a special program, all to support AAMA’s efforts to empower Latino adults to realize their full educational and career potential,” Alexandria said.

AAMA sponsorship opportunities are found here. If anyone is interested in learning more about AAMA, the organization has a robust website.

As for UST events the sisters look forward to supporting, Alexandria put a spotlight on her annual choice, the Alumni Association Scholarship Fundraiser — Two Saints and a Taco Tasting — celebrating its 10th anniversary by bringing the event to campus June 11, 2021.