Brothers credit Cristo Rey Jesuit High School for long-term success
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - North Minneapolis brothers Saul and Moises Hernandez share a bond so strong, they're taking it to U.S. Bank.
“I would never give up on my brother and I know he would never give up on me,” Saul, the youngest, said proudly inside the Livingston Avenue offices in St. Paul, Minn.
The brothers’ undeniable dedication to one another is what you would expect of twins, not siblings one year apart in age.
“We finished our final exam on Monday at 9:30 in the morning and drove to our first day of work,” he said.
Neither have yet graduated from St. Mary’s University in Winona, where together they studied Finance, but already they have both stepped into corporate sales positions with one of the largest banks in the country.
“We were roommates all three years and our last year we didn’t want to be far apart, so there’s a wall dividing our two rooms--we’re still roommates,” Moises laughed, nudging his younger brother.
“I feel successful, it feels good, especially knowing that my brother is doing well as well,” Saul nodded.
When FOX 9 first brought you their story four years ago, the two walked across the stage at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School much as they always have—together. With Saul watching Moises’ back.
“That was the plan!” Saul said.
“He’s been like a guardian angel,” Moises admitted shyly.
The brothers united to become first generation college students in 2013--a milestone the eldest almost missed out on.
“I was going down a path where I would not be happy with the person I would’ve been,” Moises confessed.
Halfway through his high school career, Moises left Cristo Rey Jesuit for public school, after personal and academic challenges. The decision came with so much regret he petitioned the principal to return.
“That meant that he would have to repeat a year, he’d be in school with his brother in the same year, and they did that and Saul committed to helping Moises get through school,” Micki O’Flynn, their college counselor at Cristo Rey, said.
“They had college interviews here for St. Mary’s and Saul told the committee, ‘we are a package deal the two of us, please take both of us,” she said.
While Saul is very much his big brother’s keeper, O’Flynn says few students have shown Moises’ perseverance.
“When we had interviews for college he wasn’t accepted right away and he asked what do I need to do to be accepted, and a few months later he had another interview and he was accepted,” O’Flynn said.
O’Flynn herself has since kept in touch with both young men, and has long felt like a “madrina,” or godmother to the two, with a ringside seat to their success.
“To know the Hernandez brothers is to love them,” she said.
The Hernandez brothers credit their Cristo Rey’s corporate work-study program as the bedrock of their success. The program partners with hundreds of companies that provide students with training and experience that make for impressive resumes.
“When we came into the interview they were like, ‘how old are you?’ because [U.S. Bank] backdated out experience to when we were 14,” Saul said ”They were like, ‘either they’re lying or something’s going on here.’ So we explained to them the program we went through in high school and they were like, ‘Wow, that sounds like an amazing program!’”
The corporate work-study program is also how Saul and Moises personally paid for more than half of their tuition at Cristo Rey. After working five days a month at major companies the two had an edge over the competition in college and beyond.
“We didn’t want to be eating ramen noodles, so we felt like we should really put in the work,” Saul said.
It’s approximately $40,000 per year to attend the private university while living on-campus, according to O’Flynn.
Saul received a full-ride scholarship, so he helped Moises foot his tuition bill.
“It allowed both our incomes to kind of come together and get through it without really being stressed,” Moises said.
The diligent investment is one that’s rooted in a collective dedication to family.
“My father is from Zacatecas and my mother is from Guanajuato,” he began to share of his origin--the brothers’ parents emigrated to Minnesota from Mexico.
“They both are from very small villages, and they both didn’t get to go to school at all, my mother and my father can’t read or write and my grandparents can’t read or write either,” Saul said.
The young men’s parents even moved in with their parents to help make sure that Saul and Moises both graduated in four years.
“They really emphasized our education even though they never had school," he said. "They just said, ‘I know it’s going to change your life ‘mi hijo,’ that’s all that really matters to us’.”
The brother’s generational inroads are a sacrifice marked by blood, sweat and tears.
“My grandpa recently just... he passed away,” Saul said.
Juan Becerra, their ‘abuelo,’ was one of their biggest advocates--ecstatic to see with his own eyes what the young men accomplished.
“It was his first time in the U.S. last year," Saul said. "We got him Visas and they got to see us in school and they came to visit the campus. I’m just happy he got to see us.”
Becerra died in March, only a few months shy of their University commencement ceremony.
“He was supposed to be there that day, but I know he’s going to be with us in spirit,” Saul said.
Yet the faith both Saul and Moises emanate fuels their rise to the top.
“Family comes first,” Saul said. “If not your family, then who?”
The loyalty Saul and Moises have for each other is one they eagerly extend to their new corporate family.
“I want to stay at U.S. Bank,” the youngest said definitively.
Saul hopes to attain a branch manager position, grow and stay with U.S. Bank for years to come.
Moises, meanwhile, has a goal of reaching the highest level as a banker in the shortest amount of time possible.
The boys will graduate from St. Mary’s University May 13.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday, going down to Winona and watching them both walk across stage and accept that diploma,” O’Flynn said
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has only been open for 10 years and has had a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate since 2011. Students have to qualify as low-income to be accepted.
To learn more about the unique opportunities Cristo Rey Jesuit High School offers under-resourced students visit their website.