2023 Tillman Scholar

Charles D. Hernandez

Stanford University
M.S., Computer Science

“My life’s journey has taught me that we are all simply human; some of us only need a bit of guidance to realize our greatest potential.”

Growing up in Los Angeles, California, Charles was frequently exposed to the extreme hardships faced by American citizens.His own experience in the foster care system reinforced his familiarity with such desperate circumstances. To change the trajectory of his family’s future, Charles enlisted in the U.S. Army. He soon deployed to Afghanistan, where he would confront war, death, and the challenges faced by oppressed citizens. 

The entrenched disparity he found abroad was all too familiar, and it quickly invigorated his promise to make a difference and fight those less fortunate in the world — the Special Forces regiment served as the solution to his life’s greatest ambition. As a Special Forces Green Beret, Charles spent years deployed between  Africa and Afghanistan. With each of his deployments, his affinity for serving others exponentially grew. His primary source of solace abroad stemmed from teaching English and life skills to African citizens and interacting with the indigenous people. But he felt his work was not enough. 

With a data analytics and social science degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Charles knew he could make a greater impact by implementing state-of-the-art methods and novel computational infrastructures to provide the critical decision-making metrics necessary to address the most challenging geopolitical situations. As a graduate student pursuing computer science, Charles strives to employ his technical expertise to revolutionize social service and influence foreign policy to genuinely help those less fortunate in the world.