Brooklyn teen becomes head of class despite Sandy adversity

May 28, 2013 3:28:51 PM PDT
A Brooklyn student whose housing complex was hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy has become his high school valedictorian, and will attend college for free on the West Coast.

"I'm a Brooklyn boy at heart so to go to California with "In and Out Burger" and surfing, and it's always hot and sunny outside," said 18-year old Luis Hernandez.

Hernandez earned himself the change of scenery and a full ride to one of the most prestigious schools in the country, the University of Southern California.

"I never joked around with my grades," Hernandez said. "My grades were always very serious for me."

Not bad for a kid who grew up in the Red Hook public houses, which lost power for weeks after Superstorm Sandy.

That made life difficult for Hernandez and his mom.

"My mom's disabled." he said. "She had surgery on her leg. So, we live all the way on the sixth floor, so not having elevator power."

Hernandez aced his courses while helping to care for more than a dozen family members, and is now graduating as valedictorian from the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

The allure of film is what's attracting this precocious teen to the West Coast.

He's already written and help make a movie, a short film called "The Tale of Timmy Two Chins", about a young boy struggling with his weight.

"Freshman year of high school, I was three hundred pounds, and I didn't really like who I was, and she told me, you could be the most handsome man in the world, but if you don't see the value of yourself, no one else will," said Hernandez.

"Because he is able to see other people as valuable, he respects them and takes responsibility for his own actions and tries to make the world a better place," said Luis's English teacher, Alie Stumpf.

"To tell my story and to tell my community's story and to mash that into a narrative would be an amazing thing to do for a living," said Hernandez.

In the movies, dreams always come true.

Luis Hernandez is proof that they happen in real life, too.