Students Rising Above

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Jesse Hernandez Jr. headed down the hall to his temporary home, a hotel room at the Hilton near San Francisco’s Chinatown.

“My stay here has been good, very peaceful,” explained Hernandez. “Being able to sleep on a comfortable bed, being able to think, and get all my work done.”

The room was paid for by Students Rising Above. The non-profit negotiated a reduced rate with the Hilton Hotel, providing Hernandez with a safe place to stay and study after his campus closed down during spring semester due to COVID-19.

“Finals [were] about to start for me,” said Hernandez. “And having went back home to a small space it was very hard to study, [and] stay focused.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

Instead, the history major ate, rested and studied for around six weeks in his temporary ‘room with a view’ all the while thinking of his grandmother who raised him.

“I grew up with my grandma, I am grateful for that,” said Hernandez. “So for the past, like, 18 years I stayed in a mobile home [with her].”

But her mobile home was packed with other family members when Hernandez came back from school so the hotel room became his solo refuge. But he did manage to bring along two friends for company, his cherished stuffed animals.

“Those are my two stuffed animals,” said Hernandez as he pointed out the pair. “The monkey … I’ve had him since the day I was born!”

And now weeks later, with finals behind him, Hernandez is out of the hotel and back home with family.

“Things are good,” said Hernandez. ” [But] I feel like I’ve kind of let myself go in terms of weight because when I was in the hotel, I was ordering a lot of food and stuff like that. So I am trying to, you know, work out to an extent.”

As for the six weeks he spent viewing downtown San Francisco solo, he had this to say.

“I’ve only been to San Francisco, I would say honestly like four times, five times in my life,” said Hernandez. ” So being able to stay there and I had my bike with me, so, was able to do some adventuring. It was great.”

Oh and just how did he do on those final exams?

“I finished,” said Hernandez. “And I’m doing pretty well.”