For Liz Hernández, a Mexican-American television personality and journalist, recognized with the Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Media & Entertainment on May 7 at the state Capitol is not only humbling but bittersweet.
“This recognition is humbling, but it is also very bittersweet because I wouldn’t be here if my mom wasn’t sick,” said Hernández, who is a strong supporter and advocate for those caring for and living with Alzheimer’s disease.
“My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. And I am just doing what any daughter would do, and giving her a voice and giving other families a voice, specially for the Latino culture,” Hernández said.
Every year, the state Latino Legislative Caucus honors Latinos in a variety of categories that range from athletics to business to public service to human rights. The annual ceremony serves as a reminder of the rich and diverse talent within the Latino community which is a source of inspiration to all Californians.
The 17th annual Latino Spirit Award ceremony took May 7, at the state Capitol during the Assembly floor session.
“But because she is, I am really grateful I’ve been given the platform, that I am being recognized by the Latino Caucus, but also I am so thankful to the Alzheimer’s Association for allowing me to be the voice for my mother, and to be the voice for so many other families that this is affecting or will affect,” said Hernández.
Hernández has moderated panels on women and Alzheimer’s, has met legislative and congressional leaders to advocate on behalf of the cause, and uses her social media platform to raise community awareness.
Hernández said is very important to educate the Latino community about Alzheimer’s.
“It’s very important because we have a bad habit of not going to the doctor and we are the force front of this disease, it affect us the most,” said Hernández, who in 2014, joined NBC’s ‘Access Hollywood’ as one of the entertainment news program’s first Latina correspondents.
“The earlier that people can get diagnosed, the more they can have a voice in wanting their wishes fulfilled, because that is the hardest part. Especially when my mom got sick, it’s hard to put into play what did she want for herself, what kind of care did she wants,” she said. “And that is why is so important about getting an early diagnoses – is that your parent is allow to have a say in how they want to be care for.”
Hernández said it is also very important for people to know the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
“You can find those on ALZ.org/10signs. I think it is really important for all of us to know. We think of cancer being the only disease that is going to affect us, and our body let us know what is going on when we have that type of disease, but with Alzheimer’s sometimes can’t detect it because it is on the brain,” Hernández said. “Even with my mom, she tried to hide it for a very long time because we are a culture that it is very proud and it is a little bit scary to say aloud to your family that you think you are losing your mind.”
“But it is really important that we get our parent in to see a doctor, it happens between 55 and 75, because it’s not only going to affect our parents, it’s going to affect us children who then become the caregivers,” Hernández added.
Born and raised in Southern California, Hernández served as the longtime co-host of the #1 rated and nationally syndicated morning show, Big Boy’s Neighborhood on Los Angeles’ influential Power 106 FM.
As a successful professional, Hernández have a few pieces of advice for young Latinas.
“I think the No. 1 thing is having good education, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, have mentors, have friends that believe in you, go out, have a purpose that is bigger than yourself too, because a lot of times we live in a society that is self-absorbed we just live on social media,” Hernández said, adding that they should go out and lend a helping hand to others. “That is how we learn, that’s a different way of educating ourselves and it also is going to bring extreme happiness to yourself.”
“We stay in our phones and this is what is leading to depression, to suicide, to all this different things, anxiety, that we have going on. We have to have something that is bigger than what is just going on in the world.
Hernández first made the jump from radio to television in 2007, when she began working as a correspondent for MTV News. She also served as on-air talent for MTV Tres before joining E! News in 2011 as a correspondent and host of E! News Now.