From the event program regarding Dr. Fernandez:
Dr. Claudio M. Fernandez, our 2022 Inductee into the Weehawken Academic Hall of Fame, was born in Lima, Peru on October 21, 1982. He immigrated to the United States in August 1996 with his mother. After growing up speaking only Spanish, Dr. Fernandez started his freshman year at Weehawken High School. Since he lived with his mother and stepfather who worked long hours every day, he spent most of his day in the school.
Dr. Fernandez fondly remembers the support and dedication of the people he met while at Weehawken High School. His English as a second language teachers, Mrs. April Morris and Mrs. Josephine Celia, spent countless hours after school helping him learn English. Mr. Tom Russo sparked his interest in science. Ms. Magaly Rodriguez and Mrs. Judith Hechavarria-Matos were amazing teachers who always gave him advice and helped him overcome the challenges of being a teenager in a new country. Mrs. Carol Maish went above and beyond to help him succeed in his career, helping him find scholarships and with his college search. Dr. Fernandez says that his experience at Weehawken High School shaped him into the man he is today. He says that Weehawken teachers saw the fire in his eyes and helped him achieve his great goals.
Throughout high school, Dr. Fernandez was always interested in medicine and teaching. At one point, he was torn between going to medical school or becoming a university professor. After graduating from Weehawken High School in 2000, Dr. Fernandez went on to earn both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Montclair State University. While he was in college, the World Trade Center was attacked. Dr. Fernandez says this was a pivotal moment for him. He was dispatched as an EMT to New York City and received the Heroic Award for his response during his time in college. Being able to help people in the face of this disaster inspired him to pursue medicine. Dr. Fernandez went on to be an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and later attended medical school at UMDNJ’s School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Dr. Fernandez has dedicated his life in the service of humanity. He currently practices emergency medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and is a core faculty member for the residency Emergency Medicine Program at HCA Westside Regional Health System. He also travels to Kingston, Jamaica annually on a medical mission to help the poor. He has done this for the past ten years, and is working towards a second fellowship from the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians. He is already a fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Internists, as he is double boarded in emergency medicine and internal medicine.
To our current Weehawken High School students, Dr. Fernandez would like to remind them that there is no obstacle too large to overcome.
Never take ‘no’ for an answer if you want to reach your dreams in life. Patience and dedication are your best allies.
Kindness, focus, and perseverance are three core principles that young people should always maintain.
Dr. Fernandez would like to thank his mother and his family, along with every person that he has encountered along the way, who worked tirelessly to help him reach his goals in life.