Trips from Paris to Brazil and suites at lavish hotels, along with international cuisine and Swedish models, make for a scene resembling an over-the-top pop video. Throw in some special effects and pyrotechnics and you’ve got a Kanye West performance.
For 21-year-old Jesus Hernandez-Rangel, this is just an ordinary weekend.
This lifestyle wasn’t rendered due to a trust fund or inheritance; no, this decadent liveliness was sought after with hard work, courage and the drive to strive for the impossible. But our fellow CSUN student excursionist had humble beginnings.
Hernandez-Rangel grew up in a small town in Sierra, Nev.
“All Lindsay had to offer me was the farm fields that so many minorities before me worked in for their entire lives,” Hernandez-Rangel said of his hometown.
He moved from the town he calls “the valley of low expectations” to the recently acclaimed “city of innovation” in Lindsay, Calif. It was there he started a very successful language consulting firm.
Within his first year he grossed more than $40,000. This huge increase in income allowed Hernandez-Rangel a lifestyle he had never experienced, and as a result of working hard, he played even harder.
Fast forward to three years later, when Hernandez-Rangel found himself hit by the recession with no money. Suddenly his fortress of refinement came crashing down. Everything that he had, he lost. He hadn’t saved any money, and therefore lost his condo. He was even forced to sleep in his car.
Going back home to Nevada wasn’t an option for Hernandez-Rangel. He had provided financial support for his mother, so she couldn’t help him. He had to make a decision.
“If I didn’t push forward, then this would have been for nothing,” Hernandez-Rangel said. “I have to get a degree.”
Having tasted the good life, he wasn’t going to let anything rob him of a better existence. He had dreamed of being more.
“If you can see the invisible, then you can do the impossible,” Hernandez-Rangel said. “When I was a teenager, all my friends were worried about parties, and all I wanted to do was see the world. I was always ambitious.”
Selling his car to pay for tuition was just one of the many life-altering steps Hernandez-Rangel took to ensure his dream was fulfilled.
“I slept on friends’ couches and enrolled into a junior college,” he said. “My advisor had told me about Cal State Northridge, so I applied as a transfer student and got in.”
One of his high school friends had offered him a place to live in Northridge.
“I got here, and I was sleeping on the floor in one bedroom with four other guys, but I was here, and all I could see was that finish line,” Hernandez-Rangel said.
He knew this was the place and the time to enter that race.
“I felt like I had been dealt a bad hand in life,” Hernandez-Rangel said. “All the odds were against me, but I couldn’t fold because my life depended on it. All my life I had to struggle. I couldn’t go back to that.”
For the past three semesters, Hernandez-Rangel has maintained a 3.3 G.P.A. He is an urban studies and planning major, and at the age of 25, plans on creating an urban planning website for minorities to help provide resources for young adults who are in a financial bind.
“I live off of less than 15,000 a year now,” he said. “I take the bus and have a lot of debt, but I know that the fruit of my labor will award me with great success for my future.”
Hernandez-Rangel plans on graduating this summer, and currently resides in Van Nuys.