PVCC DACA Alum Addresses Puma's 2023 Spring Commencement

Wednesday, May 10, 2023
PVCC DACA Alum Addresses Puma's 2023 Spring Commencement

Paradise Valley Community College 2016 Alum Oscar Hernandez Ortiz is addressing the graduating 2023 Spring Class, Friday, May 12 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Honors graduate, who went on to study law and public policy at Arizona State University, hopes to inspire Puma grads to continue to strive to be better, even in uncertain times.

Hernandez Ortiz is an undocumented immigrant from Chiapas,Mexico, who came to the United States in 2005 with his parents at the young age of 9. When former-President Barack Obama passed by executive order the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in 2012, allowing millennial young undocumented immigrants eligibility for in-state tuition, Hernandez Ortiz’s world opened up to further his education and expand his opportunities.

It was then, Hernandez Ortiz found his path at PVCC. While studying Hispanic Heritage in the Southwest, he became more interested in pursuing civics and politics, focusing on immigration and education.

“Educational moments, as well personal moments, are what directed me into a life of public service. I am inspired by the resilience of Arizonans to continue to thrive even when our growing economy makes it more challenging,” he said.

Hernandez Ortiz became highly involved at PVCC including student government president, he joined the Sustainability Club as well as Phi Theta Kappa, and served on the Student Honors Advisory Council. He received various accolades including the Chancellor’s Civic Leadership Medallion from the Maricopa Community College District’s Center for Civic Participation, and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation Chicanos Por La Causa Scholarship from Chicanos Por La Causa.

In 2016, he transferred to ASU where he earned his bachelor's degree in public policy; while doing so, he co-founded the ASU Undocumented Students for Education Equity to help DACA students obtain resources to navigate higher education. He went on to earn his master’s degree in education with a concentration in elementary education and teaching.

“Being an educator is a job that tests your courage. As an educator, one must learn to be comfortable leading no matter how small the situation is or how difficult a matter may be. It is a job that requires meeting people where they are at, not where they need to be,” Hernandez Ortiz explained. “My time as a teacher has given me a tremendous amount of experience managing teams, but it has also given me more clarity as to what my efforts as a public servant can do for our state. I am passionate about promoting a strong education system because I believe a more capable Arizona is a stronger Arizona.”

Today, Hernandez Ortiz works on the executive team of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. With aspirations of going to law school, Hernandez Ortiz hopes to continue to use his education to serve as a public servant. He also taught for Teach for America for two years in Avondale, Arizona. During his downtime, Hernandez Ortiz likes exploring new places to eat and learning new home renovation projects to do.