When Cesar Hernandez stepped foot on USF’s campus for the first time in spring 2009, he had no intentions to become involved with Student Government (SG).
Obviously, that didn’t go as planned.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘I am going to go to school and go home, go to school and go home — nothing crazy,'” he said. “But it’s crazy how destiny finds you.”
The senior majoring in biomedical sciences said it was that destiny that led him to become the new SG president.
Hernandez’s pastor encouraged him to run for the position, and instead of endorsing another campaign like he planned, he followed that advice. He was sworn into office Thursday night, delivering a speech that received the event’s only standing ovation.
“People come to me and they ask me, ‘What’s the secret to your success?'” he said in his speech. “I have a crazy feeling that everybody can be great. … Imagine what 46,000 (students) can do.”
Hernandez, who took the Oath of Office along with vice president Spencer Montgomery, said he “spoke from the heart” in his address.
“They asked me to say something, but during my entire campaign, I never wrote a thing — I always spoke from the heart,” Hernandez said. “I feel that if you speak from the heart, people will actually feel it and they’ll respect it.”
Those who attended his inauguration in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater said they felt his sincerity, including College of Education SG Senator Rachel Brown, who said Hernandez’s speech was the highlight of the night. New senators for the 51st SG term were also sworn in.
“I never really heard Cesar speak before, other than debates,” she said. “He was just phenomenal, like I just want to take over the world now.”
Montgomery said he was “truly blessed” to be stepping into the vice president position. The pair won a runoff election against SG Director of University and Community Affairs Andrew Cohen and former Senate President Pro Tempore Matthew Diaz with 57.5 percent (2,587) of the votes.
They enter office May 10, replacing current SG President Juan Soltero and Vice President Bruno Portigliatti. Both attended the inauguration.
Soltero, who helped launch a new Bull Runner bus tracking system and implemented “USF Day,” said when he entered office last year he had a list of initiatives he wanted to accomplish. Although not all of them could be realized, he said he learned a lot.
“It’s funny because I remember when I was sitting where Cesar was sitting … I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” he said. “I want to challenge Spencer and Cesar … (to) pick your battles. If it’s worth the students’ time — do it.”
Montgomery acknowledged the challenge but expressed his excitement.
“We have much work ahead of us, but we feel we are passionate to make our goals a reality,” he said. “Just five months ago, (Cesar) said that this was an opportunity to be selfless — not selfish — and I never looked back.”