“They look down at you, through you, and already have a concept of what your future’s going to be,” said 31-year-old Cesar Hernandez sitting outside Ybor City’s Blind Tiger Café.
He used to sleep on New York’s #6 train — homeless, carrying his clothes in trash bags.
“I remember on the trains it would say, ‘Start here. Go anywhere,’" said Hernandez talking about 2007. "And it was the most difficult year of my life.”
One decade later, Hernandez is a small business entrepreneur, founder of a Tampa PR Agency called ‘Publicus’ in Ybor City.
“I said to myself, I don’t know how, but I’m going to make it,” he explained.
Hernandez double majored at the University of South Florida and served as Student Body President. His resume only got better working for Tampa's City Council and for HART.
"I’ve come up through working, hustling, just loans, starting up my own company, generating my own business, came up with $95,000 to $100,000 myself and that’s difficult for somebody,” he said.
Now Hernandez is three months away from graduating with a Brown University MBA. Until he got the letter saying he owes $20,000 or he won't get his degree.
“It was very difficult for me to put it all out there like that,” said Hernandez speaking of his GoFund Me Campaign.
From a guy who has bootstrapped his way from being homeless to an Ivy League student, it wasn’t easy to ask for help.
Hernandez says you’ll get a shout out on Facebook if you decide to give — and many have including Tampa City Council Members. But he is on a very tight deadline.
Hernandez has until February 20 to reach his goal or Brown will dismiss him from the program.
“To really showcase that you’re not the product of your environment. You’re the product of your motivation,” he said.
But you'll also be investing in Tampa's future.
“I want to say that I was born in Brooklyn but I was refined, and tailored and tapered in Tampa Bay. I’ve never looked back. This is my home,” said Hernandez.