Dr. Fernández earned a dual high school diploma and AAS in Industrial Electronic Engineering Technology from the Industrial Polytechnic Institute of Santiago (IPISA), and an AS in Pure Math from Bronx Community College (BCC). He enrolled in Stony Brook University’s dual BS/MAT program with the intention to become a high school Mathematics teacher. While at Stony Brook, having benefited from an S-STEM-NSF scholarship, and having taught Calculus for Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) students, Dr. Fernández realized that something about Black and Latino students born and raised in the United States was fundamentally different. They seemed to lack the mathematical and engineering aptitude and strengths that he and his immigrant African and Latino classmates at BCC possessed. Dr. Fernández did not complete the MAT, choosing instead to complete all the Mathematics Masters courses, while parallelly completing a second BA in Hispanic languages and literature to apply to a PhD in Hispanic Cultural Studies and study social formations. While undertaking his studies in social formation, he continued to teach Calculus to CSTEP students; he left the program with an MA with a research thesis on Dominican Cultural Identity. These experiences culminated in the completion of a PhD in Engineering Education, Management, and Policy with doctoral thesis in Mathematics Education.
Dr. Fernández is a multi-disciplinary researcher anchored in mathematics and engineering in the search of solutions to problems that arise from, or have solutions in, social interaction and policymaking. Expanding his doctoral thesis work, he is currently undertaking a system-wide analysis of the high school education of New York City Public high school students. His published work in this area is in the form of descriptive analyses where he has found strong positive correlations, at the school-level, of a 4-year mathematics requirement and student outcomes. His current work seeks to determine, via quasi-experiment, whether these results hold true when the variable of analyses are at the student level. Drawing from areas such as of Operations Research, Behavioral and Managerial Economics, Management Science, Applied Mathematics and Engineering, Science and Technology Policy, as well as Technological Systems Management, his research in the emerging area of the Role of the University in the Innovation Ecosystem seeks to understand from a technological-historical standpoint, how potential partners such as Universities, Research Institutes, National Laboratories, Public and Private R&D institutions, Governmental, and Non-Governmental Organizations can collaborate toward the common goal of using Engineering and Technological Innovations for Social Good and Economic Development. This research line addresses the need to develop, sustain, and expand basic human infrastructures and needs with the goal to expand and sustain social and economic prosperity. His third team, where he is mainly a collaborator, seeks to better understand mathematics teachers’ self-assessment using the technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) framework. In one published article, Dr. Fernández and his collaborators employed a descriptive -correlational research- design to investigate whether or how teacher’s demographic variables, such as teaching tenure, age, and gender, correlated with any of the TPACK in Mathematics (M-TPACK).
Dr. Fernández is deeply committed to building community, particularly grounded on mentoring Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students and faculty. At Pace University, he co-founded People of Color Collective (a faculty and staff of color professional organization), he is founding adviser to the Dominican, and Christian, Student Organizations, and co-founder, co-implementer, and co-chair of the Anti-Racism-Education Core-Curricula. Dr. Fernández has had over six dozen mentees, including one Pace University alum, in STEM and social research, cultural identity, and navigating the university as first-gen. His mentees, most of whom are Black, Latinx, and female, have successful careers in Nursing, Health Sciences, Organizational behavior, and Biomedical Engineering.
Dr. Fernández keeps a community service agenda outside Pace University as well. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, he was a volunteer at the Science and Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School’s Annual Jobs Fair. He has been an instructor of Mathematics and Statistical Research Methodologies for ethnically underrepresented, economically disadvantaged students, or Community College Transfers at: Stony Brook University’s CSTEP, Stony Brook University’s Academic and Social STEM Excellence for Transfer Students (ASSETS), and the Northeast STEM Starter Academy’s three-week experimental research summer camp for 4th to 11th grade underserved Mount Vernon public school students.
Dr. Fernández tells students who want to follow in his footsteps, “Do not do it, hahaha. I would say to do a lot of introspection.” He wishes he had the opportunity to be a full-time student only. “If you must work, of course do it. But if you can afford to just study for four years, especially living on campus outside your comfort zone, which includes your safe space, please do it.” Dr. Fernández also offers the advice, “Learn to not say yes, without saying no. Seize every opportunity. Also, be careful about the idea that poverty is a choice. Life is a complex entanglement of unwritten social rules.”
“‘En la unidad está la fuerza’, ‘you may find strength in unity’. To me, Hispanic heritage month is bitter-sweet. In academia, where I mostly celebrated it, most Hispanic students I met came from wealthy Latin-American families and we did not have much in common. As a general practice, the fact that we still have to celebrate means we have much more work ahead of us. I know we will get to the place where we no longer need to celebrate but be part of the larger space. I look forward to building a strong community with social and cultural capital for my herman@s latin@s.”