JCPS student who emigrated from Mexico will meet President Trump after being chosen to attend Boys Nation
In the future, Hernandez wants to work on immigration legislation to specifically help students who are illegal immigrants and trying to change their lives through an education.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Sometimes the battles we go through will help others that come after us.
Butler Traditional High School Government and Civics teacher Jonathan Joseph said that will be true of his student, Gil Hernandez.
“When I think of the American dream, I think of Gil,” Joseph said.
In 2007, at just 7-years-old, Hernandez and his mother made their way from Oaxaca, Mexico to the United States. Part of the journey included a three-day walk through the Sonoran Desert.
“The walk was hard because I could barely breathe the entire time,” Hernandez said. “There were snakes, there were needles from the cacti … I had needles all up and down my legs.”
Symbolically, that journey began on July 4.
“To me, it means the day that I began my freedom from my abusive father and my freedom to pursue whatever I wanted,” he said.
Hernandez was illegally in the states for a short time until he got his green card.
Now a senior at Butler Traditional High School, he was chosen to participate in Boys State, a mock government forum. By the end of it, he was unanimously chosen by his peers to be a Kentucky representative to attend Boys Nation.
“It's definitely overwhelming,” Hernandez said.
While at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., 98 young men from around the country will debate bills they've written. They'll also meet the president of the United States.
“People tell me, ‘Oh it's Donald Trump.’ But me personally, I like Donald Trump. I would love to meet him,” Hernandez said.
It might come as a surprise considering Trump's stance on immigration and push to build a wall along the Mexican/American border. Hernandez said the wall is ridiculous, but adds he doesn't have to agree with every one of the president's actions.
“I believe he needs a chance,” Hernandez said.
“Politics -- it's the game of division, and we need people like Gil," Joseph said. "When I look at Gil, I think of unity and unifying."
In the future, Hernandez plans to work in politics and wants to focus on immigration, specifically for students.
“Illegal students who are trying to study their way out of the life they currently have,” he said.
And as he continues to wait for the day he can officially call himself a United States citizen, he can't imagine how different his life would be if it wasn't for his mom getting him to America.
“She means so much to me," Hernandez said, holding back tears. "I don't think I could ever do anything without her. She pushes me and makes sure I'm never without anything. I love her a lot."
Hernandez leaves for Boys Nation on Friday morning for one week.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.