A future businessman. A visionary. A man who is willing to be an all-around helpful person to those around him. Jonathan Fernandez knew that he was destined to make the world around him better at a young age.
Currently a senior with a 3.5 GPA, Fernandez has worn many different masks throughout his 22 years of living. He is currently the president of the multicultural fraternity Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc., a global business major with a minor in marketing, a mentor for the Boys to Leaders Foundation and a former member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at his alma mater, Old Bridge High School.
However, with all of the accolades he has gotten throughout his life, none of them were easy to obtain. The graduating senior mentioned that a majority of his successes was because of his hardships growing up. Those included the pains of moving to another state in his high school years, to financial struggles in trying to apply for colleges.
"I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to New Jersey, though I didn't like the transition at all, and I'm still trying to transition. With that being said, not being able to adapt led me to delay my advancement for years. Due to my experiences, I wasted my high school years," Fernandez said.
Financially, Fernandez's path to Kean University was turbulent as well. He worked diligently between holding a job and doing school work for his first three years just to pay for his tuition. It seemed like a lot to handle for a college student who wanted to get his degree, but Fernandez had greater intentions in mind.
"I did good in school, but I've really never been involved in anything besides ROTC. I knew that, going against all odds, I was going to go into helping somebody not do what I did."
The involvement he was mentioning? That increased when he decided to join a different type of brotherhood when he set foot on Kean University's campus. Fernandez would soon find out about the multicultural fraternity Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Incorporated, truly a decision that would impact his life for years to come.
"I never thought about fraternities due to their stigmas in the eyes of others, but I said, 'at one point in my life, I need to change.' I looked into two organizations, and LSU [Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc.] stood out because the men in the fraternity who I met at Kean Day were very professional. So after joining, it changed my way of thinking by making me more productive in the year and a half that I was a brother than my three years as a student at Kean [University]."
Fernandez credited the fraternity for giving him the courage to pursue any goal that he had set, right after he fulfilled the requirements needed to be a member, especially when it came to his major and career plans.He ended up switching from a business management major to that of a global business major granting him opportunities to a new career path. This new major gave Fernandez the chance to get internships abroad and gain a new perspective about the world around him.
"One of my internships was in Panama, where I was a marketing consultant for a German medical company in the Latin-American headquarters, right in the middle of Latin America." Fernandez said. "I had to get different inputs from other businessmen and women in countries like Mexico and Colombia, create ideas to expand products, and present solutions to help the company."
This decision to change his major did not just expand his horizons in showing how diverse the world is in opinion, but it made him feel grateful about the opportunity he had in being able to meet people from all over the country and Latin America from this internship. It gave him abilities to network and connect with people of all different backgrounds, something heavily stressed in his field.
"At the end of the day, it helps in leadership, as everyone has a story. The way someone acts, there has to be a reason behind it. It helps my leadership skills by delegating tasks, creating strong connections and teams," Fernandez mentioned.
After graduating in 2017, Fernandez plans to become an entrepreneur and open his own business. His mentor, Marjorie Perry, a Kean University alumna and the current president and CEO of MZM Construction and Management Company, was the main inspiration behind his career path of choice. He mentioned his mentor's hardships of being laid off from a job in education and her persistence to obtain a high-end job in marketing as the leading factor in his decision to work overseas.
"I have a big goal to inspire my community and give them the opportunity to make their lives better and to not do what I did. Manage your time well, because it's very valuable."
Fernandez has other aspirations in the business field, such as wanting to work for the National Basketball Association (NBA). From family members who have achieved success in their careers, Fernandez has a legacy he wishes to leave for his friends, family and community that does not just involve business, but ethics as the primary motivation.
"One thing that I don't like is for someone to have so much talent and waste it. I may have to work 20 times as hard as compared to an average student. If I had the natural talent, maybe I wouldn't have the same aspirations. In terms of a legacy, I would want for people to be compassionate about one another, especially within our own communities. At the end of the day, we're all human."