Degree: Bachelor’s in Information Technology
College/School: College of Engineering and Computing
Cuban-born Jorge Hernandez, 49, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that may lead to blindness, at 12 years old. But the drastic change to his vision happened at 21 years old as a result of a cycling accident where he was struck by a driver and left on the side of the road. Following the accident, his vision went from 20/40 to 20/200 (legally blind) in a matter of six months. But his visual impairment didn’t get in the way of his studies.
Jorge’s dad is an accountant by trade, but fell into programming when he had to implement a computer-based billing system. Inspired by his dad, Jorge decided to give information technology a try. When he finished his associate degree at Miami Dade College at 28 years old, he took a job as an assistive technology technician. In 2009 after working in the field for a number of years, he enrolled at FIU.
Jorge found ways around his challenges and sought guidance from one of his most demanding professors, Patricia McDermott-Wells, whom he considers his mentor. Outside of school, he is an advocate for the blind community, serving as vice president of the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Miami chapter and a board member of NFB’s Florida Chapter. He frequently visits Washington, D.C. to speak with elected officials about the blind community.