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Teen working hard toward higher ed and solid career
Alex IMG_5964[21827].jpg

Those attending this Wednesday’s Manteca Chamber of Commerce coffee will have a chance to meet a studious, ambitious, and hardworking teen.

Alex Jr., the 16-year-old son of Alex and Edith Hernandez who are hosting the 8 a.m. coffee at Hats & Boots Barbecue at Yosemite and Grant avenues, who does more than his part in the family restaurant.

He’s got his sight on college and the vocation he wishes to pursue in life hoping to earn a degree from Cal-Tech in Pasadena in either Nuclear Science or Genetics.

The East Union High School junior has already forged a plan for his living arrangements at Cal-Tech with a fellow EU student – both planning to share the costs of rent for an apartment and groceries near the campus.  He is also currently researching the availability of college scholarships to help pay for his education.

Alex has been enrolled in the AVID program for college-bound students since his freshman year, having been accepted into the program while still in the eighth grade.  He explained that, to be included in AVID, a student has to provide their grade point average, have shown improvement in their classes and note their parents’ annual income.

Alex is not driving yet but works in his parents’ restaurant after school and on the weekends doing everything from taking orders and ringing up the tickets when diners have finished their meals.   He has involved himself with the AVID fundraisers – car washes to cookie dough and candy sales – to provide a financial base for educational road trips to colleges around the country for the nearly 60 students who have traveled to schools like UCLA, Sacramento State, U.C. Merced and others up and down the state and to Washington, D. C.

 In next year’s first semester the first trip for the college-bound East Union group is headed for the San Diego area – University of San Diego and San Diego State University – with 26 traveling in a small school bus.

The EUHS junior explained that there are two AVID classes at each grade level with a total of 160 students with participating in the college trips being optional for each student with the freshman to seniors going together.  His most challenging class this year is precalculus. 

Alex is something of a musician too like his grandfather Mario Hernandez who lives in Mexico.  Alex plays the guitar, drums and is currently learning to play the piano wanting to add his grandfather’s instrument count of saxophone and trumpet.  He added that he wants to learn the trade of an uncle as well in construction, welding and electrical wiring. Alex also tutors a fifth-grade girl in math and English for the Give Every Child a Chance tutoring program hoping to apply for their scholarship next year. 

It was over lunch at their restaurant that I chatted with Alex who was having a dish of scrambled eggs with two strips of bacon.  When we were both finished, he said he had to go home.  Why? I asked.  He responded, “I have to help my Mom clean the house.”

Restaurant owner Alex Hernandez is not new to the Manteca-Ripon region having worked in both communities for 25 years after moving here from a restaurant in San Bernardino.  He remembers starting as a dishwasher at Co-Co’s Restaurant for $3.35 an hour.  Now he works some 90 hours a week with 14 to 16-hour days at his Yosemite Avenue barbecue.  He has worked as a server and bar tender in larger restaurants as well as being their cook. 

His wife Edith is known for her rice pudding and her potato salad and coleslaw as well as for her constant welcoming smile.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email