UCCS ‘magic’ gives alum confidence to defy the odds | Evelyn Hernandez-Sullivan ’86

Evelyn Hernandez-Sullivan, a 1986 graduate of UCCS and a 1989 CU Boulder Law alumna, retired in 2016 after 19 years serving El Paso County as a law clerk and magistrate judge. It was a career that she couldn’t envision growing up as a first-generation Mexican American. Hernandez-Sullivan’s parents had no formal education, and her traditional upbringing did not emphasize education for women.

“I was pretty much on my own,” she said. But that changed when she came to UCCS as a law student. “I never really thought I’d get that opportunity. UCCS was so incredibly welcoming. The professors that I had there were amazing. I remember them all fondly to this day.”

Hernandez-Sullivan’s experience at UCCS stayed with her even as her son was preparing to choose a school of his own. After visiting several prestigious private schools, they took a final visit to UCCS. When she asked her son what he thought about the visit, he noted that UCCS had the feel of a private school in a public setting.

Hernandez-Sullivan calls it magic. “What they have had, that magic they had when I was there, they still have it. And that’s magic I feel everyone should get a chance to feel.”

That magic gave Hernandez-Sullivan the confidence to go further than she ever imagined. “It helped me take a risk. It helped me take the next step,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for UCCS, I would never be where I am today.”

In retirement, Hernandez-Sullivan helps families through the work of her Child Smart Mediation Program, a program that gives children meaningful input during a separation or divorce.

Evelyn Hernandez-Sullivan is a distinguished alumnus who delivered the 2009 commencement keynote speech. View a list of other notable alumni here.