Dustin Fernandes continued:   Being an RA for four years and interacting with nearly 2,100 residents in his building, Fernandes said that he’s learned a lot along the way and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.  “I’ve grown to love working with them; I’m interested in what other people do and I want to influence them,” Fernandes said. “If one resident can look back 10 to 20 years from now and say that Dustin has really made an impact on my life, then it would make all the late nights before tests and hard work worth it.”  Residents voted Fernandes for the Best Community Development award his second year as an RA for engaging students with fun hall events.  Freshman Lucas Brown, a resident currently living in Weatherford, said that Fernandes is very friendly and helpful to everyone in his building.  “He’s a great person,” said Brown, a finance major. “He seems to know what he’s doing all the time.”  Billy Buffum, a sophomore and fellow RA of Fernandes, said that he inspires and pushes others around him to succeed.  “Dustin Fernandes is an impressive individual and the definition of a success story,” said Buffum, a computer science major. “He is the prime example of what it means to be an OSU beaver. I’m proud to be able to call him a colleague and a friend.”  Despite all that he’s done, Fernandes wishes that he had more time to participate in other social and extracurricular activities on campus, such as Greek life.  “I’ve always wanted to be in a brotherhood and grow along with them,” Fernandes said.  Other than his RA position, Fernandes found that TEDx was one of the other things that he was proud of. He worked with another RA and friend Aaron LaVigne, a graduating finance major, for two years to make the project possible. They were able to sell out tickets for the event and received 2,900 online viewers from 13 different countries, even though the program was in its first year.

“There were times that we didn’t think it would happen, but all of the hard work paid off,” Fernandes said.  Fernandes’ success wasn’t left unacknowledged. When he attended the State of the University Address, he was surprised to see his picture come up on the projector screen.  “I did not see it coming, but it was the coolest thing ever,” Fernandes said. “The people all looked to me, and I talked about TEDx. I’m sitting at a table with well-known and really established people and they all think I did something cool.”  While Fernandes said he felt successful sometimes, there were other times in his college career where he doubted himself. He feels that it comes with the college experience, but it was still tough. He remembers when he failed his biochemistry class the first time around.  “I thought that was it; it’s over,” said Fernandes.

But support from his friends and family encouraged him pick himself back up and try again.  “My parents have always sacrificed a lot for me to get here; I couldn’t let them down,“ Fernandes said. “(In the process), I’ve learned to focus on what’s important.”  After he graduates, Fernandes wants to find employment in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry, where he can apply his scientific knowledge and business skills together and one day own his own company. “Innovation thrives in those areas,” Fernandes said. “I hope to make a   difference in the world and leave a legacy that I can be proud of.”  With college at a close, Fernandes hopes to leave some advice for college students.  “I can remember my freshman year clear as day when I walk through my hall as an RA. College goes by fast, and it’s only going to get faster,” Fernandes said. “This is a place where you grow and (get) challenged intellectually; don’t be afraid to take a risk. College is the place where you can afford to fail.”