Luis Hernandez

Class Year: 

2004
Hometown: Houston, Texas, USA

School: 

Mirabeau B. Lamar Sr. HS

Language: 

French
My experience in Chile was very intense. I saw the scars of a country that had suffered under an extremely polarizing, brutal dictatorship, and that now, decades later, prides itself as one of the most prosperous, wealthiest (per capita) nations in South America.

Luis grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico but spent his high school years in Houston, Texas. As a student in the Huntsman Program, Luis earned a Wharton concentration in Business and Public Policy, and he double-majored in French and Comparative Literature. He also had the opportunity to study abroad twice. Luis spent one semester in Santiago, Chile and another in Lyon, France.

"Santiago turned out to be a great base from which to travel around Latin America, and Chile itself is definitely the country to visit for adventurers," according to Luis, "for both outdoors people looking for the mountain, the desert, the sea, or Antarctica, or for people like myself looking for a variety of points of view and a rich history." For Luis the best part of the trip was the people that he met: first the Chileans who shared their history and their perspectives, but also (and this came as a surprise) he found Chile to be a great place to meet a lot of fascinating Americans from different parts of the country and different universities who were very bright, curious and adventurous. Luis ended up travelling to Argentina and Bolivia with some of the people that he met during his time in Chile, and to this day he has great friends around the country that he met in Santiago. "It was hardly a vacation to live in Chile," says Luis. Among other things, he was attacked and bitten by a pack of stray dogs (not a typical experience). "But," he says, "I felt more alive and aware after living in Chile for six months."

Luis' experience in Chile got him prepped for his semester abroad in Lyon, by far his favorite semester in college. He took classes at two universities in Lyon (including the renowned Sciences Po), mixing political science coursework with language and cultural studies. Unsurprisingly, Luis says his most memorable moments in France were not part of the official curriculum. He doesn't mean to say that classes were not top-quality and very challenging, especially given the language handicap. Rather, he felt that the cultural lessons were so immense, so relevant and life-changing, that it would have been impossible to focus solely on academics unless he was not paying attention to what was happening around him.

Luis says that some of his fondest memories are odd and seem hardly related to France (hopping onto a battered car named "Lulú" with a bunch of Latin-American immigrants living in France and screaming "Arre Lulú! Arre Lulú!" as the old car huffed and puffed up the hills of Lyon) but they could not have happened anywhere else. Before going to France, Luis had begged to be allowed to live by himself, not wanting to live with a "French family" in Lyon. His request was denied. He ended up living in an amazing pad with a young French couple, Cathy and Alberto, who are now great friends and who just visited Luis (for a second time) in New York a few months ago.

After graduation, Luis decided to take the unconventional path and work in... Wall Street. Strange as it may sound, he never considered working on Wall Street before graduating. He had never held a finance internship and avoided non-required Finance classes like the plague. But ironically, he has worked in financial sales since graduation and says that he enjoys his work immensely.