Finding His Voice—and Using It

Hernandez Stroud practices advocacy with empathy
By Tiffany Westry Womack • Photo by Andrea Mabry
Photo of Hernandez Stroud; headline: Finding His Voice—and Using It
Hernandez Stroud practices advocacy with empathy
By Tiffany Westry Womack • Photo by Andrea Mabry
When Hernandez Stroud arrived at UAB, he wouldn’t dream of speaking to an audience, much less a courtroom. He was too shy. But now the 2010 UAB graduate (pictured above) has earned a place on Forbes’s “30 Under 30 in Law and Policy” for 2018. Follow the evidence of his successful rise:
WHY FORBES TOOK NOTICE: The Huntsville, Alabama, native takes inspiration from his experiences growing up in a working-class family, being a first-generation college student, and hearing stories from his grandparents about life in the South during the Jim Crow era. “That all deeply affected me,” he says. Through law and policy, “I can truly advocate to help others, even if it’s just being an example to someone growing up in similar circumstances to my own.” He has researched and written about legal issues related to addiction. At Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where he is a visiting professor, Stroud teaches and researches civil rights, federal courts, federalism, legislation, and statutory interpretation. 
LIGHTING THE SPARK: “My UAB days, without question, helped me realize my passion for helping others,” Stroud says. As a Hess-Abroms and Spencer Scholar in the UAB Honors College University Honors Program, “I learned from a diverse group of faculty and students. Never had I considered that variety of perspectives. The experience made me more empathetic.” Stroud graduated with a degree in history and political science from the College of Arts and Sciences.
CAREER MOVES: Stroud spent two years teaching at a Philadelphia inner-city high school through Teach for America, then enrolled at Washington and Lee’s law school. After graduation, he was selected as a fellow at Yale Law School, where he studied the constitutional and criminal law implications of governmental interactions with drug addiction during pregnancy. He also served as a policy adviser to the mayor of New Haven, Connecticut. He earned a master’s degree in urban education and education policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
SPEAKING OUT: “Serving as UAB Student Government Association president helped me get over my fear of public speaking,” Stroud says. “I had played small roles in student government, but when friends encouraged me to run, my first thought was, ‘Are you crazy?’ Then my passion overtook me. I spoke with every person and every group that would hear me out. Winning the presidency taught me that anything is possible.” Stroud also served as UAB’s student representative to the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
NEXT STEPS: Later this year, Stroud will clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, based in Boston, which has appellate jurisdiction over four New England states and Puerto Rico. “Following my clerkship, I hope to practice appellate law, work for the government, or teach law again,” Stroud says.

• Discover the academic opportunities available in the UAB Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Published March 2018