David A. Fernandez
|Name: David A. Fernandez
Year Graduated: 2010
Service Branch: Navy
Military Rank: E-6/Petty Officer 1st Class
Navsta Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; USS Kitty-Hawk (CV-63) Japan; CFAY Yokosuka, Japan
How did military service prepare you for the study of law or for life in general?
The Navy taught me to be focused and driven regardless of the environment or surrounding circumstances, especially in high stress situations, and to overcome fear of the unknown. These skills have been invaluable in balancing law school and family, and have helped me to experience many different options at Stetson. Law school requires commitment from the student -- without focus and drive one can become overwhelmed. Likewise, fear of the unknown sometimes precludes students from taking advantage of the many opportunities at Stetson. Because of military service, I have been able to take advantage of some of these opportunities with confidence.
Were there particular military service experiences that heightened your interest in the law?
I worked as a bailiff for the Western Pacific Judicial Circuit, under the Honorable John Maksym and as an investigator with NCIS. Watching the interaction between the attorneys and the judge, and the dependence of law enforcement on the attorneys, helped me gain great respect for the legal community, and a profound understanding for the level of responsibility that attorneys carry. I aspire to be like these professionals, and I welcome the trust charged on attorneys.
What do you think civilians should know about those in the service?
Service members are incredibly resilient; we are trained to adapt and overcome. If you give us an opportunity, we will surprise you with our abilities to succeed.
Why did you select Stetson Law? Is the atmosphere supportive of military veterans?
I chose Stetson while I was overseas. I was told by a JAG Officer of Stetson's reputation as a superior advocacy institution. I figured that if Stetson's reputation can extend across the Pacific, the quality of their students and curriculum must also be well regarded.
I have found that Stetson has been very supportive of military veterans. We annually hold a "Support-the-Troops Bar-B-Que," which helps to send care packages to service members overseas, we annually invite JAG and other military speakers to the campus, and our advocacy department is headed by a former military judge, Charles Rose, who is always available to help fellow veterans and promotes military values very well.
What are your plans for after law school?
I have had the opportunity to be mentored and work as a law clerk under local attorney Lenny Englander, an Army veteran who specializes in commercial litigation at Englander and Fisher P.A. I hope to practice in this same area of law after graduation. Although I came to law school expecting to enter the practice of criminal law, I have found commercial litigation to be incredibly intriguing and complex; it is a welcomed challenge, and given Tampa/St. Petersburg's increasingly Hispanic population, I believe it is an area of law that can benefit from my background and training.