vote for the best businesses in hollister and san benito county

Graduate spotlight: Faith Fernandez

San Benito High's Faith Fernandez earned co-valedictorian honors by combining an indefatigable work ethic and determination to achieve her potential in whatever she set out to do. Fernandez is set to attend Stanford University. Courtesy photo.

When she was in the first or second grade, Faith Fernandez came home from school one day and started talking to her parents about colleges. The story goes that her dad, Joe, replied to her, “You’re going to Stanford.” Talk about high expectations. 

“Ever since then, I told myself I was going to Stanford,” Faith said. “Everything I’ve done since middle school has been about creating a plan that would swing the door open for Stanford or any other prestigious university.”

On Dec. 11, 2020, Fernandez was with her family when she read an email from Stanford that would tell her if she had been accepted into the school or not.

“I opened up my computer, and all I remember is everything flashed before my eyes,” she said. “All I see is confetti and I knew I had gotten in. It was a big moment of joy filled with tears and love with my family. It was very surreal because this had been my dream.”

As someone who likes to have a plan, Fernandez made a well thought-out one to increase her chances of getting admitted to Stanford. Fernandez’s propensity for organization and planning was apparent from an early age, when, as a preschooler, she made color-coded calendars that had a to-do list categorized by the minute for each day. Fernandez also said during her early years her parents described her as “never shy, very outgoing, confident, going for things.” 

Things haven’t changed much, as Fernandez combined those traits along with an indefatigable work ethic to become co-valedictorian along with Jaya Waller and Robin Johnson. 

“I truly feel this recognition is reflective of my work ethic because I’m not the type of student who can walk into a class and get an A,” she said. “So nothing ever discouraged me from stopping because as long as I was giving my absolute best, I could say I’m satisfied (regardless of the outcome).”

Fernandez’s parents, Joe and Yvette, named their oldest child Faith due to their Catholic faith being a vital part of their lives. Fernandez will major in symbolic systems with a minor in political science at Stanford. The major blends computer science, linguistics, math, philosophy, psychology and statistics. Its motto reads: reimagining humanity and technology, human and artificial intelligence, mind and machine. 

“This course of study will thoroughly prepare me for law school,” she said. “I really wanted something to capture all my interests. I love math, but at the same time all the other subjects I’ve grown up around in the technological world, I’m able to combine everything in one major.”

Talk about a supreme all-around student-athlete: Fernandez finished ninth in the 200-meter dash and 14th in the 100-meter dash in the Pacific Coast League Track and Field Masters Meet on May 27, showing she’s got as much moxie on the track as she does in any other arena of life. Fernandez has shined in a variety of disciplines outside of the classroom, especially in public service. 

Whether it was working with the city mayor, the school superintendent or becoming the founder and director of the Baler Community Service Program—the latter which set up a food drive to assist the Community Food Bank of San Benito—Fernandez used her passion in helping others to give back to the community. 

“I think growing up I always had this passion for helping others,” Fernandez said. “Cliche as it may sound, I feel like when I’m able to do these small things that impact someone’s life, even if it’s just the smallest way, I feel like I’m doing something to better our community and at some point have a further impact.”