Moton Scholarship recipient announced

Published 3:27 pm Saturday, March 12, 2022

Jacqueline Amaya Hernandez ’23 applied to a total of 16 colleges and universities in her college search. Ultimately, she chose Longwood because she fell in love with the close-knit campus community and individualized academic support — missing in her exploration of larger universities—and because financially it made sense.

“The one-on-one connection with the professors was something that I was definitely seeking,” Amaya Hernandez said. “At a smaller school, you get more attention, and I liked that aspect. It also helped that Longwood offered me the best financial aid package.”

Now in her junior year, the biology major, who aspires to become a pediatrician and help underserved communities, recently received one of the highest honors bestowed by the university — a scholarship that covers full tuition for one year.

Amaya Hernandez has been named the recipient of the 2022 Moton Legacy Scholarship, established by the Board of Visitors in 2014. Given annually, it recognizes a student with great promise for a life and career of citizen leadership. The ideal recipient will advance in a contemporary context the ideals espoused by those who fought for equal opportunity in Longwood’s home communities of Farmville and Prince Edward County during the civil rights era.

Amaya Hernandez is a member of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars and a LIFE STEM scholar. She is president of the Hispanic Latino Association (HLA), vice president of Global Leaders, a Student Government Association (SGA) senator and an Honors College mentor.

Before she came to Longwood, like most students, she said she didn’t know anything about the Moton story or Prince Edward’s civil rights history. Her first visit to the Moton Museum was as a freshman during the Honors College retreat. Now, as an Honors mentor, she takes incoming CHC freshmen to tour the museum during their first days on campus. 

“Every time that I go I feel like I’m learning something new,” Amaya Hernandez said. “There’s just so much you can take in.”

She said the story of the Moton students who were involved in the 1951 walkout to protest the school conditions inspired her to step up for what she wants. She is especially proud of her work to increase diversity and inclusion on campus through HLA and SGA, and she said she prides herself on being a voice for students who aren’t as inclined to speak up.

“Through her work both inside and outside the classroom, Jacqueline’s leadership represents the ideals that this award seeks to espouse and what it means to be an engaged citizen,” said Cameron Patterson ’10, M.S. ’17, executive director of the Moton Museum. “She has demonstrated what it means to be a citizen leader and will take those lessons learned with her as she leaves to begin her career and professional pursuits.”

Amaya Hernandez was born in El Salvador and came to the United States at age 6. She grew up in Alexandria, and realized in high school that she wanted to go to medical school. Last fall she spent 40 clinical hours shadowing doctors and medical professionals at Centra Southside Community Hospital, and she is currently studying for the MCAT.

“My long-term goal once I become a pediatrician is to provide medical resources to low-income communities around the world,” Amaya Hernandez said. “I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and I would like to change the system so that more people have access to that right.”

Amaya Hernandez named Dr. Alix Fink and Dr. Consuelo Alvarez, professors of biology, as two of her role models and biggest champions at Longwood. She said they encourage and push her to keep reaching for her professional goals.

“It’s easy to talk about Jacqueline’s commitment to her academics and her sincere motivation to become a physician. But that’s only part of the story,” Fink said. “She has distinguished herself as a citizen leader who is deeply committed to serving others — her peers, her campus community, and beyond. She is a fierce friend and passionate advocate for those in need, and I can’t wait to see what she adds to the growing story of this important award.”

At a larger university, Amaya Hernandez said, she likely would have felt like a number and would have missed out on the opportunity to personally know faculty members and to receive such a special recognition.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity, and this scholarship is really an honor for me,” Amaya Hernandez said. “It’s going to help me financially and will allow me to have more independence in my senior year. And it’s something I can be proud of. I worked for it, and hard works pays off.”