New Grad Credits Einstein For Physics Passion


Kevin Fernando can thank Albert Einstein for leading him to UCF.

Fernando is graduating this spring with double degrees in math and physics after finding inspiration from a textbook in 11th grade.

“One of the first chapters was on physics and there was a picture of the German theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. I didn’t know who this guy was at the time but I had a ‘wow’ moment. These people know exactly where a car would be at any given time,” Fernando said.

Fernando is also an immigrant, just like Einstein, who gave up his German citizenship in the 1930s to teach in the U.S. Fernando was born in Switzerland, spent his pre-teen years in Colombia, then uprooted and re-planted in the U.S.

“I had to drop all my friends and go from Switzerland to a random country that I had no knowledge about. Learning Spanish was a priority,” Fernando said.

Fernando was viewed as an outcast among his peers in the new school environment in Colombia and he was often bullied.

“In 5th grade it was like every day I was in the principal’s office for fighting back in response to my peers’ insults. I saw it as a way of defending myself,” Fernando said.

After spending two years in Colombia, it was time to move again. At the age of 10 his family relocated to the United States, where he experienced a seismic cultural shock. He thought American culture would be similar to that of Switzerland, but he was in for a rude awakening.

“The culture is very different. These kids were very different than my friends in Switzerland. As a result I made friends with a lot of immigrants, especially those who were Hispanic because I could relate to them more at that point in my life,” Fernando said.

When it was time to start applying to colleges, he already knew what he wanted to do. Physics was on top of his list and it was all because he read the 11th grade science textbook.

He started his journey at UCF with a triple major in computer science, math and physics. Reflecting over the long journey, he is elated that his hard work, perseverance and resilience paid off. From UCF, he moves on to John Hopkins University in Maryland.

As a sophomore Kevin became the vice president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) because he had a vision to change things. He wanted to improve students’ awareness about opportunities for scholarships and the process of getting into a top graduate school. He led an initiative to invite speakers to address students on varying topics.

As a junior, he served as president of SPS and helped spur the group on to winning several accolades, including the Outstanding Chapter award.

The math and physics graduate credits his success to his family, his peers who supported him along the way and faculty members including Associate Professor Patrick Schelling, Ph.D., Professor Richard Klemm, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Costas Efthimiou, Ph.D.

His advice to all students is to ask for guidance and advice from the most respected faculty members because this can help steer them in the right direction.







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