BRENHAM, WASHINGTON COUNTY Luis Grijalva is the first member of his immediate family to pursue a college education. Myra Hernandez is a second-generation college student.
But Blinn College’s Homecoming king and queen both understand the value of higher education as well as anyone. And they’re utilizing Blinn’s smaller class sizes and affordable tuition to prepare them to attend one of the nation’s elite four-year universities.
Grijalva and Hernandez each plan to attend Texas A&M University following graduation – Hernandez is set to graduate in December, while Grijalva is scheduled to graduate in the Spring. Hernandez will pursue a degree in psychology, while Grijalva plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering before pursuing a master’s in electrical engineering.
“I’m the second generation in my family to attend college, and I want to be the first generation to attend and graduate from a university,” Hernandez said.
Since coming to Blinn as shy freshmen who were focused mainly on grades to qualify for a transfer to a university, the two have branched out to make an impact at Blinn and in the Brenham community.
Grijalva, who took dual credit classes in high school, said he dedicated himself to his coursework and a part-time job as a freshman. But as a sophomore, he joined Blinn’s Catholic Student Union and was recruited to the HOLA club by Hernandez and Club President Vanessa Martinez.
“This year I’ve been focused on helping my community,” he said.
In addition to his studies, he volunteers at C.A.R.S. (Children Are Really Special), a local non-profit organization that assists children at Washington County elementary schools learn to read and write.
“My parents brought me to the United States from Mexico when I was 4 years old,” he said. “I came in not knowing English, and having to teach yourself was hard. Volunteering for C.A.R.S. is an opportunity for me to help children. I don’t want them to struggle the way I struggled growing up.”
Like Grijalva, Hernandez has found joy in community activities.
“If I’m not at school, I’m at a youth group in my church, and I sing in the church choir,” she said. “I really enjoy being involved and meeting new people.”
Both were also named Blinn College Homecoming king and queen Oct. 19 – an honor neither envisioned when the first stepped foot on campus nearly two years ago. Together, they raised more than $3,500 dollars for CASA for Kids, a local non-profit organization that benefits children who have been abused or neglected.
The Homecoming court, which consisted of 16 students, combined to raise more than $6,300, all of which was donated to CASA. The fundraiser set a new Homecoming record, shattering last year’s total of $4,200.
“It was a very special moment,” Hernandez said. “We’re proud that we were able to help make such a positive impact.”
Blinn enrolled 18,413 students this Fall and has experienced 31.1 percent growth since 2006. Founded in 1883, the College’s tuition and fees average about one-third the cost of the same classes at most four-year public universities in the state. In addition to its four campuses in Brenham, Bryan, Schulenburg and Sealy, the College teaches online courses, dual credit for high school and prepares students for quick employment through its workforce education, technical training and vocational education programs.