Growing up in Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania, Raycell Diaz Hernandez ’24, an international and global studies major with a concentration in international affairs, experienced the cultural duality of her family heritage and life growing up in America. Fourteen years ago, she and her mother immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
During the “Living Our Promise: A Gettysburg Evening at The Franklin Institute” in Philadelphia on Thursday, Nov. 10, Diaz Hernandez greeted alumni and guests and shared how the Gettysburg community transformed her journey to and through college. Just as Philadelphia opened its doors to welcome her family to America, Diaz Hernandez reflected on how Gettysburg College opened doors for her personal development and provided her the necessary tools to build a meaningful life.
“As alumni of the College, you all have a great responsibility in shaping our institution’s future as current students do, and I have firsthand knowledge of this,” she said that evening. “I am here today thanks to the devotion of an alumnus of the College. John Yocum ’74 introduced me to Gettysburg College and brought me on my first campus visit. Following suit, numerous enthusiastic alumni, whom I did not know prior to my acceptance, reached out as well.”
Diaz Hernandez, an admissions tour guide, also enjoys sharing her love of Gettysburg with prospective students. Below, she describes the motivation supporting her choice of major and how Gettysburg College professors, courses, and student activities enabled her to be a part of something bigger than herself.
What inspired you to choose your major?
“My major was inspired by my experience as a first-generation immigrant from the Dominican Republic, caught between two distinct countries, lifestyles, and opportunities. I’m double minoring in political science and East Asian studies with a focus on Chinese culture.”
What has been your favorite class thus far?
“My favorite class was Intro to African American Studies with Africana Studies Prof. Tyeshia Redden. This course has allowed me to learn more about the African heritage within my Afro-Latina identity. Most importantly, it has allowed me to bond and connect with other students of the same racial community.”
Do you have any mentors or favorite professors?
“My advisor, Prof. William D. Bowman, has been my greatest mentor on campus. Prof. Bowman has been there to help me figure out my purpose on campus and as a scholar. He has also helped me craft my academic interests every step of the way. Most importantly, he consistently embodies the community and support that Gettysburg College is known for.”
What has been the best part of your Gettysburg experience?
“I was able to expand and become a sister of the Delta Gamma sorority on campus, and it has transformed my college life immensely. During my first year at Gettysburg, I was more reserved and too shy to explore and take advantage of all that campus has to offer. Thankfully, with the support of my sisters, I have become involved in many more opportunities, and I’ve created more wonderful memories.”
What is your favorite spot on campus?
“My favorite spot on campus is the second windowed study area on the second floor of Musselman Library. When I sit here, I can see the entirety of Penn Hall and its beauty as the sun shines through the glass. This study area brings me the peace I need to relax.”
What advice do you have for prospective students?
“I always tell prospective students to choose your college not only based on the education it provides, but also on the person it will develop you into. As I continue to meet Gettysburgians from all generations, I trust that I am becoming the best global citizen I can be, honoring the essence of the College. This is critical to my future because my goal in life is to build bridges for different communities on an international platform. With Gettysburg’s teaching and support, I know it is only a matter of time before my dream becomes a reality.”
By Michael Vyskocil
Photography by Abbey Frisco