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Daniel Hernandez Jr, 23, is a Tucson native and a recent graduate from the University of Arizona. A first generation college student, he was a congressional intern for the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District and while on the job assisting Congresswoman Giffords with a constituent event in Tucson on January 8, 2011, Daniel took actions for which he is widely credited with saving the life of the congresswoman after a gunman shot her and 18 other people. His medical training, quick thinking, and brave actions on that day have caused him to be celebrated as a true American hero.
He was an honored guest of the President and First Lady during the 2011 State of the Union Address. He also addressed President Obama and a crowd of more than 27,000 people and over 500 international media outlets at the “Tucson: Together We Thrive” memorial on January 12, 2011.
Daniel has conducted more than 1500 media interviews in English and Spanish with local, state, national and international outlets. Appearances include: ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, The Fox Report, Univision’s Al Punto, BBC World Service’s Outlook Program,GQ, NPR’s Wait, Wait, Tell Me More, Time, People, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, CBS’s Early Show, and The Washington Post.
Daniel began his activism in 2007 working on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. In 2008 he worked on the Gabrielle Giffords congressional campaign. In 2010 Daniel served as campaign manager in the successful effort to re-elect State Representative Steve Farley who currently serves as assistant minority leader in the Arizona State House.
Dedicated to public service and advocacy, he has served as a member on the City of Tucson Commission on LGBT issues, as a director on the Arizona Students’ Association’s Board of Directors, and has advocated for affordable and accessible higher education for all Arizonans. Since 2011, he has been serving on the Sunnyside Unified District’s governing board fighting for quality education and to work on solving inequities in his district—a minority majority district with over 90% of students on free or reduced lunch and many at or below the federal poverty level.
Overcoming Adversity: A First Generation College Student’s Journey 50 Minute Presentation with 10 minute Q/A
Daniel Hernandez Jr, 23, is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona. A first generation college student, he was a congressional intern for the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District and while on the job assisting Congresswoman Giffords with a constituent event in Tucson on January 8, 2011, Daniel took actions for which he is widely credited with saving the life of the congresswoman after a gunman shot her and 18 other people.
But, long before Daniel became a nationally known advocate for gun control and education issues, he encountered many challenges. A native Spanish speaker, Daniel had a crash course in English when bilingual education was removed from Arizona class rooms in 2000. Raised in a working class family in Arizona with no college background, from an early age he decided he wanted to help people, and he knew the path to that goal was through education.
In High School, Daniel became ill with Graves’ disease and failed his junior year. Though he was encouraged to drop out and get a GED, he stayed the course and worked to get back on track. After treatment, he returned to school, completed his Junior and Senior years simultaneously and graduated in the top 20% of his class.
While attending The University of Arizona, Daniel once again struggled with health issues so severe that he was unable to finish his Freshman year leading to his disqualification from his program in the College of Science. Rather than giving up, Daniel completed 24 units in one semester at a community college, reapplied, and two years later became the first in his family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree.
Elected in 2011, Daniel is serving to promote the education of those in his home town as a school board member and is a leader on several national issues. He takes great pride in being able to serve as a role model for college students, specifically those who are first generation, and to encourage them to focus on their goals and reach for their dreams.
The Gun Debate Today 50 Minute Presentation with Q&A
Daniel Hernandez, Jr. is a proud South westerner and an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. In “The Gun Debate Today,” Daniel talks about how growing up in the Southwest and later events in his life shaped his views on guns. Daniel learned how to hunt and shoot from his father and speaks about the historical and cultural significance of guns in the “Wild West.”
But, on January 8, 2011, when Daniel was serving as an intern for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gunman shot her and 18 others. Daniel used his medical training, quick thinking, and brave actions to help save her life and has since been celebrated as a true American hero. He shares his first person account of being involved in and surviving a mass shooting.
After the shooting, Daniel continued his involvement in politics, but steered clear of the gun debate until two years later when, while serving as an elected school board member in Arizona, he was forced to address the wakeup call of the Newton, Connecticut tragedy.
The issue of preventing gun violence isn’t about right versus left. It’s about right versus wrong.
In his program, Daniel shares why as a proponent of the Second Amendment, he is working to curb gun violence deaths. He lays out the facts and presents the audience with potential action items for getting involved to help prevent gun violence in your community. From talking about background checks to assault weapons, Daniel uses his personal story, first as a survivor, then as an elected official to talk about this difficult issue.
Recognitions and Awards:
United States Office of Personnel Management Teddy Roosevelt Award for Public Service
Presidential Citation by the League of United Latin American Citizens
Special recognition by Jan Brewer Governor State of Arizona National
Special recognition on behalf of the country of Mexico presented by Mexican ambassador
Ceremonial first pitch All Star Game Major League Baseball
Special Proclamation from Council of the City of New York
National HOSA Hero Award from the United States Surgeon General
Special Recognition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City
Sunnyside Alumni Association Learning Community Leader Award
Special Citation by County Executive of Nassau County Long Island
Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Service Courage and Distinction Award
National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Award for Outstanding Community Service
Aguila Youth Leadership Institute Mitch Menlove award for Public Service
Santa Rita Little League Ceremonial first pitch award
Professional Action Committee Community Service award
Arizona HOSA Hall of Heroes award
Pima County Sheriff’s Citizens Medal
University of Arizona 2011 Step Up award
Campus Pride Voice and Action award
Citation by Speaker of the California State House
Recognition by the Chabbad Jewish Synagogue Mineola Long Island
International Equality Forum National Hero Award
San Diego Pride Parade Grand Marshall
Valle del Sol Manuel Ortega Youth Leadership award
Grand Marshall Seattle Pride Parade
[OCT 16] “Daniel was fantastic! He and I spoke on the phone the afternoon before the event and he expressed great interest in our institution and the audience that he would be speaking to. He took all of the notes from that conversation and used them to speak directly to our students in a way that more than met expectations/our needs. He was extremely personable and a joy to work with, as were you and the rest of the Kirkland team.” – Jessica Watson, Intercultural Programming and Communications Specialist, Tidewater Community College
[NOV 2014] “Both Mr. Hernandez and Kirkland Productions were great to work with! I would encourage everyone to consider bringing Daniel to campus. He was informative and engaging!” – Jonathan Miller, Director of Student Life, Quinsigamond Community College