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Books and notes on the lawn in an outdoor class.

Pamela Hernandez '02, Ph.D.

Houston, Texas

Anthropology and Sociology

Pamela launched her own social science research firm so she could work on projects and research related to social change issues.

Pamela Hernandez leans against a railing outside, with trees in the background

What is your current position, and how did you come into it? How long have you been working in this position? 

I'm principal researcher and founder of Educo Research, a research firm that builds, conducts, analyzes, and reports research, and creates strategic research plans with organizations to support organizational priorities and build human capacity. I've owned my own business for the past four years. I've been in the social science research field for over 15 years but decided to open up my own research firm to allow me the liberty and flexibility in working on projects and research that is meaningful and related to social change issues. 

What is it like to have such a position? Did you anticipate having such an important role in this way? 

As an entrepreneur, I am the face and brand of my business, and I am involved in every aspect of its function—producing leads, identifying and executing projects. I find my work rewarding, especially when I mentor and supervise other consultants that work with me because the work they do provides hands-on experiences with theories and literature they only read about in graduate school.   

How did Knox prepare you for your current position? 

Knox College was my foundation as a researcher, and in particular when I was a Ronald E. McNair fellow. In this program, I remember going through the research process of developing a research question, doing literature reviews, conducting interviews, and then analyzing all of that qualitative data. This is part of what I do now with my clients who seek me out if they have a question about their program, organization, or initiative and how effective it is. Knox's classes were always structured to question and be critical about assigned readings and to draw our own informed conclusions. The courses I took in the anthropology & sociology department were all about people, processes, and culture, which are the core of any qualitative research project.   

What professional goals are you working towards at the moment? 

I'm working to expand my firm with two additional research associates by 2023, and continue to expand my research portfolio to include federal contracts.  

What advice would you give to students hoping to go into your field? 

If you are a lifelong learner and like to interact with others of various backgrounds, then social science research may be a space for you to put those critical thinking and writing skills to use. If you have searched long and hard for something that brings you meaning, and you still haven't found it, then create it. Build your own business or venture that captures your passion. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Try to seek out opportunities to learn about what others do, from intern/externships, apprenticeships, fellowship programs, mentors, informational interviews, etc. in order for you to truly know what brings you joy and what you're good at. You will learn along the way that you may or may not like something, but you have to first try it.    

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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024