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Alexander Hernandez ’14: JAG Corps Is Opportunity to Serve and to Help

Beginning when he was a young child, Alexander E. Hernandez would often hear from his grandparents, immigrants from China and Puerto Rico, how lucky he was to have been born in America. “I believed them when they told me it truly was a land of opportunity,” he says. “Since then, I have always been interested in joining the military. As I grew older, I saw the military as both an opportunity to go to college and a way to serve my country. So I applied for ROTC.”

Alex Hernandez '14
Alexander Hernandez ’14 has realized his goal of entering the Army JAG Corps.

Hernandez was accepted into the Army ROTC program at Fordham University, where he majored in general sciences. He was a participant in the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), a scholars program for minority and economically-disadvantaged students, and at graduation received the Alvin E. Leonard, Esq. Memorial Award for excellence and service. 

When it was time to select a branch of the Army in which to serve, Hernandez thought about the decision in the context of what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. “I began to consider law and the opportunities for advocacy it affords,” he explains. “However, I also wanted a career in the military. I thought ‘why not try for both?’ and I applied for an educational delay from the Army to pursue acceptance to the JAG Corps. 

Now an Army First Lieutenant, Hernandez has been accepted into the highly-selective Judge Advocate General’s Corps and after taking the bar exam will report to Fort Benning, Georgia to begin his training as a JAG Corps officer. 

As a student at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, Hernandez was a co-founder and co-director of the Rutgers Veterans Pro Bono Project. The project is modeled after the Military Legal Assistance Program started by Brigadier General (Ret.) William S. Greenberg ’67 when he was a partner at McCarter & English, LLP. Greenberg is now a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 

The only school-recognized, pro bono project run entirely by students, the project managed and reviewed substantive legal assignments from McCarter’s program and assisted with client intake for DLA Piper’s legal clinic at the Veterans Administration hospital in Lyons, New Jersey. Hernandez also has been an associate editor of the Rutgers Race & the Law Review and a member of the Minority Student Program.

As a 1L he interned with the Newark Municipal Prosecutor’s Office and that summer worked as a law clerk at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP.

Following his 2L year, supported by a Public Interest Law Foundation grant, Hernandez interned for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), at Fort Drum, New York. He rotated through the various offices that support the Fort Drum, including Criminal Law, Administrative Law, and Legal Assistance. The rotation mirrored the typical career path of a JAG attorney, which is intended to develop versatility and a broad skill set.

With commencement imminent, Hernandez already knows what he will miss most about law school – late-night study sessions with classmates. “Although those sleep-deprived, caffeine-driven times can be hectic, they truly bring people closer together. It is the times you’re feeling like you want to quit and someone helps you through when you know you’ve found a friend. Now that I am preparing to leave Rutgers,” he adds, “it is those moments where true friendships were made that I will remember.” 

As for envisioning what his career as a judge advocate may entail, Hernandez explains that he thinks more in terms of hopes rather than expectations. “I hope I will gain experience and help people along the way,” he says. “Right now I am focused on preparing myself for Army life and the workforce and keeping in mind the hard work and effort of the people who helped me get to this point.”