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‘The College Experience' Could Be on Hold for One High School Graduate

No graduation ceremonies, no proms, no awards, so NBC 6 is honoring the class of 2020 by updating the seniors featured this school year in the Students Making A Difference segment.

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“I am not a STEM major,” Janet Hernandez told us back in December, even though she aced every science and math test she took at the academically demanding School for Advanced Studies - a public college prep school in Kendall.

Janet managed to stand out in a school full of standouts.

That same night, she found out she had been accepted by Harvard University. The unbridled joy of that moment is tempered now by the realization that the COVID-19 pandemic might prevent colleges from opening in the fall, at least in the traditional sense, with students living on campus.

“Harvard, I think, was the first university who closed their doors, so there is a lot of speculation as to whether we will be going back in the fall at all,“ Janet said. “But I think that most of the class is in agreement with, you know, our problems are very minute compared to what’s going on globally.”

Janet is the type of student who was noticed by her teachers, for more than just her academic performance.

“It’s her passion that kind of leads her into being a role model for others,” said Jesica Soria - who teaches AP U.S. History.

An activist, Janet organized demonstrations, served on government panels, and worked on campaigns during her high school years.

“And I hope that I can be an example that with enough work and effort our voices can make a difference,” Janet said.

Her father was a political prisoner in Cuba, so Janet’s activism is in her blood.

“For me, it’s personal. I’m so lucky to be here in the United States and have those rights and be celebrated for being so involved in politics,” Janet said.

Like most students, the switch to distance learning has been less than ideal for Janet.

“It’s been a huge adjustment and I definitely do miss being in school with my teachers and my peers,” Janet said. “I think that the transition has definitely been a lot harder than a lot of us were expecting.”

Without question, the class of 2020 was a dealt a bad hand. You get the feeling, though, that nothing is going to stop Janet Hernandez from pursuing her dream. She will become a human rights lawyer with an Ivy League pedigree.

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