Former Marine brings unique experiences to freshmen


The Magnet Tribune: Sofia Ramos

Gilberto Hernandez teaches a recent first block class in his classroom.

Sofia Ramos, Staff writer

Recently, VMT welcomed its newest teacher. Gilberto Hernandez, former Marine and Nixon graduate, is teaching world geography to freshman.

Hernandez served in the Marine Corps from 2008-2013.

Hernandez described his experiences serving and how it has made him the person he is today.

I grew up just like you guys. I’m an LISD kid. I have family in Nuevo Laredo. The only places I had actually seen were San Antonio and Nuevo Laredo so I really wanted to do something different.”

— Gilberto Hernandez

Hernandez was 12 years old when he first tried applying to the Marines.

“They sent a recruitment package to my brother when I was in 7th grade, and I tried applying but they said I was too young,” he said.

Hernandez said he wanted to join the Marine Corps because of financial reasons.

“I knew my mom couldn’t afford to put me through college. Recruiters were always coming around and it’s something I always had in the back of my head,” Hernandez said. “Junior year came around and I said to myself that I was going to the Marines so I could afford college and get out of Laredo.”

I joined to get my life started after high school,” Hernandez added.

Although he had a great experience, Hernandez said it did come with challenges.

“Boot camp was easy, physically. I was in athletics so I was used to running around and working out. Emotionally and mentally, it was very tough because you’re away from your family, and I had never been away from them for longer than 2 or 3 days. And I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. We were all kids. We were all 17 or 18. Then we were thrust into this environment where we just have to grow up quickly, so it’s tough,” he said.

Hernandez described his position and experience during the time he served.

“I went to a school house where you learn the occupation you’re going to have. I was a flight technician. Pretty much my job was to sew. I can sew curtains, book covers, and I can pack parachutes. I also worked with survival equipment that we used,” he said.

“It was fun. I learned a lot in the Marine Corps. I got to travel around the world to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, the Philippines, and other places I can’t even remember. You get to meet a lot of different people, and different doesn’t mean necessarily bad or good, but it’s good to get to know different people. I have friends from all around the country,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez recommended students join the Marine Corps.

“I would say everyone should join. You learn a lot and it’s a good way to get started,” he said.

Hernandez said that being in the Marines and being a teacher is somewhat similar.

“I see both as serving the community,” he said.

Hernandez majored in history and attended TAMIU from 2013-2016. He was inspired to teach by one of his college professors.

“One of the professors I had was so knowledgeable on the material he could talk about it for hours, and I just thought it was really cool and interesting,” he said.

He said that despite not being a VMT student, he’s very fortunate to be here now. He played basketball in high school, so he wasn’t much involved in the fine arts area.

“I’m lucky to be at VMT. Most of the kids really want to be here and that’s good. Other kids at other schools aren’t as motivated,” he said.

He explained his teaching philosophy.

“As a teacher, I have high expectations for my students. I don’t let them slack off. I think I explain well and I learned that everybody takes a certain level of explaining,” Hernandez said.

He said the military gave him the opportunity to experience something different.

“I grew up just like you guys,” Hernandez said, referring to a reporter. “I’m an LISD kid. I have family in Nuevo Laredo. The only places I had actually seen were San Antonio and Nuevo Laredo so I really wanted to do something different.”