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Faces of YE: Meet Kevin Hernandez

July 03, 2018

Faces of YE: Meet Kevin Hernandez

YE alum Kevin Hernandez just completed his sophomore year at Kansas State University, where he’s majoring in finance and accounting. As a student, he’s already applying his entrepreneurship skills by working on campus as a career specialist, helping other students discover their own passions and what to do for a major or after graduation — often even guiding students who are older than him. Meet Kevin Hernandez.

As a YE student: YE was a course Kevin chose to take because it was one of two options at his high school in Topeka, Kan., and he thought it sounded more fun. Needless to say, he didn’t enter it passionate about entrepreneurship. It was the way his teacher taught the class that grew his interest. “It wasn’t a class where you just sit and listen to a lecture,” Kevin says. “We had a lot of hands-on activities that helped us learn, so I pretty quickly wanted to get more involved.” 

His YE mindset-shift moment: “The Win it All competition [a business plan pitch competition]. That was the moment that I realized that if you work hard you can really succeed. In my second semester, I worked really hard and took it seriously, then I won the classroom competition and went on to Regional and took third place. I was a sophomore. At the time I didn’t really know what I wanted do after high school, but once I won that, I realized entrepreneurship was something I could do. ” 

Make48: The summer before his senior year of high school, Kevin and a team of peers competed in a nationwide competition based in Kansas City. Each team was given a topic to perform market research on and a subsequent 48 hours to create a solution. His team’s topic was barbeque, and so they went off to a large BBQ competition in Kansas City to ask the business owners what problems needed to be solved in their business. The most common answer was that they struggled to dispose of hot coals, especially when needing to move a food truck or shut down a food tent. Kevin’s team developed a heat and fire-proof bag that made it safe to dispose of the coal in a trash can. His team took second place, and today are working on licensing the product. 

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YE’s Foundational Values: Kevin connects the most with the concept of Opportunity. “YE was all about opportunity,” Kevin says. “We just had to go and get it. It was put in front of you and it was your option to pursue it. That’s what set YE students apart from others. We learn to take action, be the first one to take that first step. Even now in college, I see opportunities everywhere and I try to take as many as I can.”

What’s next: When Kevin thinks about life after college, he’s torn between pursuing a financial analyst role at a large corporation or going to graduate school. His financially-minded approach tells him, though, that graduate school will be an option if there’s a scholarship, and he looks forward to seeing how life plays out.

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His YE passion: “The YE competitions instilled the confidence in me to pursue opportunities. Growing up in Topeka, Kan., it’s easy to miss opportunity. The YE trips showed me there’s opportunity everywhere, you just have to find it. It may not be where you are. The combination of the confidence and opportunity helps you take the lessons outside of the YE classroom.”  

Read more inspiring YE Alumni stories on the blog

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