Alumni Spotlight: Daisy Hernández ’97, English Writing

Daisy Hernandez '97. Photo courtesy of Antonio Martez.

In recognition of Pride Month, we honor Daisy Hernández, an award-winning author and college professor.

Daisy describes her experience at WP as transformative. It was here where she embraced the concepts of feminism, being queer, and being out. Daisy met a group of friends in college with whom she developed a strong support system. She credits WP as the introduction to the rest of her life.

Daisy knew from a very young age she wanted to be an author. She felt writing provided her with a power in her childhood that she otherwise did not have. She calls herself a “news junkie” since the age of 11, and dreamed of writing essays that could influence people in the future. Daisy watched the news in Spanish and English and was aware that the narratives were depicted differently on various stations, particularly regarding the Latina diaspora.

A great source of inspiration was Arlene Holpp Scala ’71, MA ’81, professor of women’s and gender studies, who was also the faculty advisor to the Feminist Club on campus. Daisy describes Arlene as compassionate and open-hearted. In fact, Arlene was the first person that Daisy trusted enough to come out to. As a professor herself, Daisy hopes to mimic the most important lesson she learned from Arlene: Being a professor goes beyond the time in a classroom; it is about building relationships with students and helping them navigate life.

Today, Daisy is the author of The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease, which won the 2022 PEN /Jean Stein Book Award and was selected as an inaugural title for the National Book Foundation’s Science + Literature Program. She is also the author of the award-winning memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed and coeditor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism. Daisy is an Aasociate professor in the English department at Northwestern University.

Daisy’s advice for future WP graduates: “Take good care of yourself. As you enter the workforce, remember that it is a big change, just as it was when leaving high school to come to college. Your days will not be structured the same way. Be aware, stay in a good emotional place and know who is in your corner to support you. Stay vulnerable. You are not falling short; you are just in the adjustment period. Officially adulting is a big deal!”