Mateo Hernandez, Men's Soccer
Mateo Hernandez started his Carnegie Mellon University experience as a remote student in the fall of 2020. Now a junior, Hernandez has found spheres of support through his experiences as a men's soccer student-athlete, member of SALSA, and with alumni through his internship placement with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
A soccer player in his hometown of Pembroke Pines, Florida, Hernandez felt he owed it to himself to connect with the men’s soccer staff to see if he could continue his passion for playing a sport he grew up with since the age of five.
Once on campus in the spring, Hernandez reached out to head coach Brandon Bowman for the chance to show his worth and was given the opportunity to train for the semester.
“It was the best decision I could have made,” said Hernandez, who chose Carnegie Mellon over Florida State. “I didn’t think I was going to continue playing soccer and I’ve loved it.”
Hernandez appeared in two games his first season rostered on the team and has played in eight games this season, starting one.
Hernandez credits playing soccer for the Tartans for some of his external success.
“I think it’s helped me a lot in accountability, my time management, and my discipline,” said Hernandez. “I think soccer has given me a scheduling balance that I was missing before. I didn’t realize the benefit it would give me in managing my day-to-day.”
There is a lot to be distracted by as a college student – classwork, clubs, social groups – and they all bring their own level of stress.
“Having practice at a certain hour and games on weekends, it’s given me a lot of self-motivation to keep my schedule in order and not be fazed by all the distractions I face day-to-day,” said Hernandez. “I also happen to be in a fraternity and there are a lot of external factors with classes that are stressful and I think I really needed soccer to keep me in check. The guys are a huge support system and the coaches always ask you how you’re doing.”
The athletics department works hard to make sure students know they are supported and offers programming throughout the year to help keep the student-athletes healthy and at their best.
“I really valued the talks we had about mental health and nutrition during the preseason,” said Hernandez. “The sports department as a whole is doing a really good job of providing support to student-athletes. I want to take full advantage of that before I graduate.”
Another place Hernandez finds support is within SALSA, the Spanish and Latin Student Association, and he views his status as a student-athlete can help bring the groups together.
“SALSA provides a support system for all different majors and backgrounds,” said Hernandez. “I’ve been to a few events and tried to get on the board. I want to be able to use my background and my power as a student-athlete and I feel like I’m a leader on campus and I want to show that in another club.”
Hernandez often feels like he’s one of the few students at Carnegie Mellon from Florida where there is a lot of Hispanic representation and wants to be able to show some of his roots to make the school a bigger melting pot. Helping him contribute to that is junior Alejandro Fernandez, a soccer teammate from Madrid.
The duo first met this preseason as Fernandez is a transfer student who attended Slippery Rock University for the past three years.
“Since coming to college my level of Spanish has been on the decline. Having a teammate here is someone I can practice with. Aside from that, I already feel like he’s my brother,” said Hernandez. “Having these same common roots gives us a talking point immediately. The first conversation we had was about our families and our upbringings. Now it’s what type of music you listen to and what foods you like to eat, and we’re even pushing that on to our teammates. They love to hear it. We’ll be in the locker room playing Spanish music. It brings a whole other level to it and I love it. I’ve found a really great friend in Alejandro.”
This past summer, Hernandez had an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and he’s already accepted a return offer for 2023.
“There are different departments that PWC offers which is why I wanted to go back,” Hernandez said. “I really like the atmosphere. They were super helpful in giving me a whole CMU network. There are so many alumni that work there that were able to answer any of my questions or see if I wanted to get into the type of work they did.”
Like most students, Hernandez wasn’t sure what type of career he wanted to get into. A finance major at the jump who took one class and realized it wasn’t for him, he’s now looking to strategic management and using his minor in global systems and management along with his international studies to expand his prospects.
“I’ve been taking a Spanish class this semester as well,” added Hernandez. “I think I want to work in an international environment, a pretty big firm, that has the opportunity for me to travel to Spanish-speaking countries and use my background as an asset to the work I’m doing.”
Hernandez used his student-athlete platform to help secure his initial job placement with PWC by attending the Tartan 2 Professional event hosted by Athletics and the Career and Professional Development Center.
“They talked a lot about leveraging your student-athlete experience into jobs,” said Hernandez. “In Handshake, the website they offer, there are a bunch of different programs you can apply to. And I’m pretty sure they have some specifically for student-athletes.
I also got it by applying through the minority program and being a student-athlete gave me the upper hand as well. I try to use all these different resources that I have and sell myself the best I can,” Hernandez closed.