Gabriel Hernandez celebrates his graduation from Southern Adventist University. / Photo from Southern Adventist University

Introducing the grads

This is the fourth installment of a series of features on graduates of area universities. See previous stories from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Covenant College, Lee University, Bryan College and Chattanooga State Community College at

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Gabriel Hernadez / Photo from Southern Adventist University

Attending Southern Adventist University was not originally in Gabriel Hernandez's plan, but looking back, he sees that God's plans for him exceeded his dreams. After graduating from Southern this May with his bachelor's degree in business administration, Hernandez is putting his passion for leadership and health care into practice in his new position at AdventHealth in Orlando, Florida.

Hernandez was raised in Orlando and attended Forest Lake Academy. He originally planned on studying business at a university in Florida, but after a recruiter visited Forest Lake and spoke about the opportunities at Southern, Hernandez was intrigued — particularly by SmartStart, the free summer class available to incoming students. He and his friends decided to try it out.

"I ended up loving it," Hernandez said. "I signed up for all of my fall classes during the last week of SmartStart, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made."

While at Southern, Hernandez began earning valuable career experience serving as a project manager for Southern's Enactus club, an international student entrepreneurial program. His professors quickly noticed his dedication and strong work ethic; more than that, they saw his caring heart.

"Gabe went above and beyond what was required of him in order to help others," said Michelle Doucoumes, assistant professor in the School of Business and Enactus adviser. "He worked on a project to help local military veterans and went out of his way to find out what issues they were facing, meet with potential community partners and bring his team together to look for ways to create positive change."

Last summer, Hernandez landed an internship at AdventHealth back home in Orlando. It gave him a taste of the career he hoped to pursue while establishing connections with people within the company. That paid off once he began job hunting.

"I reached out to an executive at AdventHealth who replied, 'We really enjoyed having you here over the summer, and we definitely want you to work here,'" Hernandez said. "They offered me a job in physician enterprise, which runs all of the doctors' offices and private practices under AdventHealth."

Upcoming coverage

See profiles of area high school graduates the week of June 10-16 in the Times Free Press.

Throughout college, Hernandez had been drawn to the business side of health care. During his internship, physician enterprise had particularly attracted his attention.

"Seeing how you can have a direct connection with families and kids is one of the things that really touched my heart while I was working there," he said. "I knew I wanted to be a part of that after I graduated."

Even when there were times in his college experience that tested his faith, Hernandez always knew that God had a plan for his life.

"The most valuable thing I have learned as a student here at Southern is that no matter how hard life gets, how stressed or tired you are, you need to focus on God and trust that whatever comes, he has a plan for you, and it is better than you could ever imagine."

This story also will appear in the July edition of Southern Tidings, a newsmagazine of the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Rachel Beaver is a senior public relations major at Southern Adventist University.

More from Southern Adventist

More student profiles can be found on Southern Adventist’s Humans of Southern profiles page:

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Gabriel Hernandez talks with an adviser during his internship with AdventHealth, a hospital system across 10 states. / Photo from Southern Adventist University