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The Ones Who Inspire Us

School of Nursing Professor Janice Hernandez pays tribute to the first Mexican American to earn a Ph.D. in nursing
Janice F. Hernandez UT Nursing

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with Janice F. Hernandez, clinical assistant professor and division chair of holistic adult health nursing, for suggestions on who we should learn more about during this time of national reflection.

Quick Facts

Education: First-generation college graduate and proud UT Austin alumna
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Family Origins: Mexico/Spain
Favorite Family Tradition: Celebrating loved ones and ancestors during Dia De Los Muertos

Most Inspirational Hidden Figure

During Hispanic Heritage Month, I recommend people inquire about Dr. Hector Hugo Gonzales, the first Mexican American Nurse to obtain a Ph.D. in 1974. When I became aware of Dr. Gonzales, I was amazed at all his achievements because he started off his nursing career just like me. He received his nursing diploma from Robert B Green Hospital in San Antonio, where I was born. He then earned his bachelor’s from the University of Incarnate Word, went on to get his master’s from the Catholic University of America and finally, his Ph.D in curriculum and instruction of higher education at UT Austin. I don’t believe many people know about Dr. Gonzales and his contributions to nursing, including being one of the founding members of the Hispanic National Organizations for Nurses. In addition, he was acclaimed for enrolling the largest number of minority students, male students, and minority faculty in nursing at San Antonio College. He was also the first to initiate evening courses in order to make nursing education more accessible for working moms like myself. I educate my students about Dr. Gonzales because he’s such an important figure in UT history—and in the health care and nursing professions. Every Latino nursing student, and all students at UT, should know about Dr. Hector Hugo Gonzales and all that he has accomplished.