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Angel Hernandez ’21, ’27 Ph.D.

Angel Hernandez poses outside the UNCW campus.
Angel Hernandez ’21, ’27 Ph.D. began his Seahawk journey after attending Isaac Bear Early College. Hernandez continues to soar in the university’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program.
Photo: Michael Spencer/UNCW

Angel Hernandez ’21, ’27 Ph.D. began his Seahawk journey after attending Isaac Bear Early College High School, a partnership between New Hanover County Schools and UNCW that allows students to earn a two-year undergraduate degree. Hernandez now continues to soar in the university’s clinical psychology doctoral program.

He currently studies Latine adolescent sexuality and gathers his primary data in Puebla, Mexico.

“My current thesis is on the impact of family rituals on Latine adolescents’ mental health. With this, we look at how impactful meaningful family activities are on adolescents’ mental health by measuring life satisfaction, happiness, and depressive symptomology,” said Hernandez. “Other research we have done as a lab is looking at the relationship between parenting practices and Mexican adolescent sexual intentions and experiences, associations between parental and adolescent alcohol use, the role of gender and familism support and looking at religiosity and sexual intentions among Mexican catholic adolescents.”

Hernandez is a first-generation college student and Wilmington native who was introduced to UNCW by the MI CASA mentoring program. MI CASA is designed to provide Latinx high school students access to higher education by offering resources like college prep, tutoring and cultural enrichment activities. Hernandez began serving as a mentor once at UNCW.

“As a first-generation student, I had no one to rely on or anyone to answer my questions when applying to universities. I had no idea of what I could do or who I could become after high school because no one around me had gotten this far,” he said. “So, being a role model for Latine high school students and showing them that people like us can get accepted into college, shows we can obtain and work towards an advanced degree and make a difference. It helped fill a hole I had growing up, and I hope it did the same for other students.” 

Hernandez graduated with his bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in English from UNCW in 2021. During his undergraduate years, Hernandez was inspired during his practicum placement at Clinica Latina, a mental health treatment center for Spanish speakers. 

“I witnessed the need, firsthand, for bilingual therapists and, in general, bilingual professionals,” he said. “Hearing and seeing how far parents come to Wilmington to provide treatment for their children moved me to pursue mental health.”

After finishing his doctoral degree, Hernandez hopes to provide mental health treatment in Spanish to adults or adolescents in community health centers.