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David Hernandeaz '23

“Difficult” is a Natural Part of the Path to Success

By: David Hernandez '23 

Difficult is a word associated with many of life’s tasks. Early wake-ups are often difficult. Leaving your family for another deployment is difficult. Attempting a challenging assignment or exam is difficult. Here’s a question: Why do we submit ourselves to what feels like a lifetime supply of difficult tasks? The answer? We participate in the challenges of life because we can. The beauty of life is the challenges we overcome. We subject ourselves to the difficult tasks in life because doing so ensures that we will ultimately succeed. Another question I like to ask is: How can I succeed if I never try? This way of thinking allows me to acknowledge the notion that success is often preceded by challenges and stumbles but is still within reach. All one must do is simply try.

For me, the Marine Corps was difficult. How else could you describe the toughest branch of the armed forces? I served over eight years on active duty, deployed multiple times to Iraq and a handful of other nations within Asia and Europe, and spent more than two-thirds of my total career time away from home. I will repeat my earlier statement; for me, the Marine Corps was difficult. However, difficult is not always synonymous with adverse, and it was far from it in my case. The most difficult days in the Corps were also the most memorable, and today, they are what helped shape and define me as a leader, a person, and a scholar. The challenges I overcame allowed me to focus on my successes both in the Corps and in my current status as a student at Cornell studying Industrial and Labor Relations.

Is Cornell difficult? Of course. Is it a difficult task worth completing? Absolutely. At Cornell, I have the opportunity to apply my mind as strategically as I had once applied my physical strength during my time in the service. The ILR School and Cornell have opened my eyes to the importance of improving workplace functions, policies, and procedures for workers everywhere and have provided me with what feels like endless opportunities to propel my career forward. One essay, exam, and class after another, I allow myself to place another notch on my figurative belt of difficult challenges overcome.

Success is a continuous journey, and it requires drive, perseverance, and the understanding that you will succeed if you try. Never let a difficult task dissuade you from your path to success. I know I sure won’t. I am a Marine, and I am a Cornellian, and although I have faced many challenges, I am still here, ready to persevere and succeed. Cornell is just one step forward along my path to success, and although I know there will always be additional challenges to face in my future career and life, I am ready, and I will overcome them.

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