Hector Hernández

New Mexico Highlands University Distinguished Alumnus

Homecoming 2019

Hector Hernández’ distinguished career with the United States Secret Service has spanned 28 years, including protecting three U.S. presidents and serving now as the special agent in charge of the protective detail for Vice President Mike Pence.

Hernández is the first Hispanic to hold this top position. In May 2019, he received the Aguila Award from the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.

“Hector Hernández is a professional to his very core,” Vice President Pence told the Baltimore Sun newspaper after presenting the award to Hernández.

Hernández was a special agent with U.S. Health and Human Services when the Secret Service recruited him. He completed Secret Service training in 1992 and rose through the ranks to become part of the prestigious Presidential Protective Division. He protected President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama.

“First and foremost, I have a sense of pride in my work,” Hernández said. “The protection aspect of my career is very altruistic, and I’ve really enjoyed that. Being a public servant is one of the greatest things God has allowed me to do.”

Hernández said he has had the opportunity to travel the globe as a secret service agent.

“And as a proud American, I’ve also visited every state in the country,” Hernández said.

He said one of his most memorable experiences in the Secret Service was when he was a first responder for the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.

“One-hundred and sixty-eight innocent people died that day, and I was tasked with helping the recovery effort. The secret service lost six employees in this tragedy. It was one of the most emotional and physically challenging times in my career,” Hernández said.

Hernández spent a number of years supervising multiple departments at the Secret Service Training Academy and held other leadership positions such as supervisor of the Secret Service Recruitment Program.

In 2018, Hernández joined the senior executive service ranks of the Secret Service.

Hernández graduated from Highlands in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology and completed a master’s in public affairs in 1989.

“My education at Highlands helped form me and build my character to go on to have a successful career and family. I always want to give Highlands the credit it deserves for an excellent education. I’ll always be indebted to Highlands and the citizens of Las Vegas, who are phenomenal and adopted me as one of their own,” Hernández said.

Hernández, an El Paso, Texas native, came to Highlands on a full wrestling scholarship. He was inducted into the Highlands Hall of Fame in 2002 and the RMAC Hall of Fame in 2003.

“It was exciting to wrestle at Highlands for coach Steve Sanchez. It was one of the proudest times in my life to bring back the first wrestling national championship to Highlands,” Hernández said.

Hernández and his wife, Jodi, met at the New Mexico Fellowship Program and have been married 26 years. They have two children, Sarah, 22, and Sammy, 20.