Untold Stories Of The Pack


Serenity Mejia

Justin Hernandez leaned up against a wall posing away from the camera.

Serenity Mejia, Editor In Chief

     Having your parents while growing up helps shape who you are and who you’ll become. Making it difficult enough without them because now you no longer have someone to guide you. For junior Justin Hernandez the toughest challenge they faced as a kid is, “Learning how to do everything on my own, trying to become more independent and not rely on my mom.”

     For Hernandez his toughest day was at the age of eight watching both his parents get arrested in front of him. As soon as his parents were arrested, Child Protective Services stepped in and were going to put him and his brothers into the foster care system, but his grandmother stepped in. “I showed a lot of appreciation towards her and she made me feel like I still had someone who cared for me. It just showed how much love she had for me and my brothers to provide for us through tough times,” says Hernandez.

    Hernandez describes his childhood as “a little dark”. During his childhood he lived in Pacheco, California living with his grandmother for five to six years where he experienced some traumatic event. “It was a little tough, a lot of strange people, a lot of gang violence over there, and of course you’d see stabbing at a young age” states Hernandez. He says he was around seven years old when he witnessed his first stabbing, even seeing dogs being stabbed. 

     When he was little, his mother and father weren’t always there so most of the time it was him and his brothers.  He remembers how sometimes he would wake up and wouldn’t see them for a week at times. “I was just curious why they were gone all the time; it was just hard not having them next to me when I woke up.” He recalls the worst person from his memory being one of his brothers because they fight a lot and reminds him of a fight he witnessed between his uncles. 

     His uncles fought in front of his grandfather who at the time was around 80 years old and while fighting they smashed into him breaking his ribs. There were times when he said his brother would bring him down a lot to the point where he would have suicidal thoughts or self- harm. In order to cope with it and change that way of thinking he says, “I try to conquer that and realize that if I’m gone then it’s just gonna hurt my family more and gonna hurt me.”

     If you are going through the same things, struggling with mental illness or anything harming you or others, there’s always someone who cares for you and resources such as the “Sprigeo School Safety Tip Line” located on the school’s website where can remain anonymous, and talking to your counselor or those you feel comfortable with. 

     In contrast to the worst person Hernandez remembers from his memory, he says his mother was the best through it, “because she’s always been there even when she was in prison, I’d come visit her almost every week, and she’s always been there for me. She inspires me to do my best and just keep going even though I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my life. She just keeps me going and she inspires me to do better because she’s doing better”. To end it off, something Hernandez would tell to his younger self is, “To keep going, don’t be sad, everything will be better at the end, your life is gonna be better, everything you’ve been through and everything you’ve been put through is just a challenge and challenges are meant to be overcome. And you’re just gonna pull through, I know you will and you’re gonna grow up being successful.” 

    Hernandez says that there is a  common misconception, “That (people think) I have parents with me all the time, my mom I never really see throughout the day and my dad I have not seen him in two years since Covid-19 hit.” Some advice he’d like to tell people growing up without their parents is,

“It’s gonna be alright in the end, at the end of the day just do what you love doing, take care of what you need to take care of, provide for whoever is there for you, and don’t lose any hope.”

— Justin Hernandez