Adrian is a young man that has a passion to direct films. In fall 2014, he will be attending USC Film School this coming fall. However, without MAPS, he would not be attending film school. In the past, Adrian was introverted and clamored. Once bullied, outcasted from peers, and depressed, he found MAPS. From the program, he increased in confidence, a voice, and friends. He found the motivation and drive to direct nine plays. He started his own independent short films, and a review series that analyzes issues in a critical light.
What advice would you give to people if they were considering participating in the SPICES Program right now?
“Do it, quite simply do it. It’s a very wonderful experience and it’s really going to change you. A lot of people I knew from the program was changed as well. They were like me, very clamored, very withheld, very introverted. And they …expanded and started branching out and they’re really achieving their potential now–which is something that not very many people get to do, especially at a young age.” – Adrian Hernandez
May 11, 2014 Testimonial
My name is Adrian Hernandez. I am currently 18 years old and soon to be attending USC for a major in Film and Television Production. I am confident that MAPS made the latter possible, and can make such achievements possible for others my age.
MAPS 4 College initially appealed to me because of the free ACT prep it offered. Such open assistance for such an important test seemed insane to me, and I immediately sought a membership application.
As I stayed in the program, I found that it offered more than it advertised. My peers and I began setting aside our ACT prep books and discussing various topics of interest. Politics, religion, society, and even the qualities of a lasting existence were brought up in civilized, round-table discussions. I’d often heard from relatives that such conversations existed on higher-education campuses, but never did I think I’d find them so close to home.
I soon began to love the intelligence and insight my fellow MAPS peers offered me. Under the discussion direction of Sarai Koo, we explored and mobilized ourselves into making positive change in our community. We saw the inequities society shackled us with due to our geographic location and upbringing, and decided to organize several college fairs and information sessions in the area to generate interest in higher education.
I also found in MAPS the social and life skills needed to pursue my educational and career goals. Before MAPS, I was timid: Rarely opening up about myself and often using harsh cynicism to cover up my insecurities. After MAPS gave me a chance to open up to other people–to understand, empathize, and even become companions with my fellow man–I found in myself a newfound desire to do good upon others. I knew that I loved entertainment, and wanted to touch people’s lives through laughter and thought. After learning to love others for who they were, I knew that it was my duty to go out and brighten the doldrums of their daily lives with stories and joy and humor. I became president and Director of the Sierra Vista Drama Club to achieve this goal, and directed a total of 6 plays in my time, each requiring me to associate with a large amount of people in new and interesting ways. I can personally say that I delighted the lives of several hundreds of audience members in my time and I have MAPS to thank for this.
MAPS is more than just a college or ACT prep course: It’s a class in life itself. The skills and individuals I met will stay with me always. Always.
MAPS taught me more than how to be a good studier or test-taker: It taught me how to be a proper, motivated, and curious human being.
Testimonial May 11, 2014
As I see it, we’re all lost.
Whether it’s in terms of our future, our fate, our purpose, or our place in the world, there’re always nagging questions in the back of our minds. Ones we can’t answer. Ones we can’t ignore.
The How’s, the Why’s, the Who’s, the When’s, the What’s. They hound us like flies, circling and infecting us. And they only get louder as we get older.
We turn every which way to find answers. Like rats in a maze. Sometimes we’re led to chapels and churches and synagogues. Others, we’re led to needles and pills and blunts.
All they offer are the quick solutions; ones that get us through the night until the morning. The morning. The morning so we can question again. So we can run like rats in a maze. So we can find our way back to the chapels and the churches and the synagogues and the. . .
I was tired of it.
To relieve my questions, I turned towards the MAPS program for guidance. A program that had given me so much. A program that seemed to have an answer for everything.
And it did this time, too.
More than a religious doctrine or shallow self-help code, SPICES offers a set of life philosophies worth living by.
The answers to those big questions.
Who am I? The person I create for myself.
How should I treat people? Equally, regardless of whom they are. We’re nearly identical genetically, anyways. All past wrong-doings are in the past, and the past is where our past lives live, not our present selves.
Why am I here? To improve the quality of the human race.
SPICES is more than just another cheap slogan: It houses the secrets to living a quality life.
After all, don’t we all need a map?
Testimonial June 4, 2019
Adrian Hernandez turned 23 years old on June 4, 2019 (about 7 years after the first SPICES program).
I received SPICES during the round of “Beta Testing” with a cohort of high school students in a program called “MAPS 4 College.” It was different than I ever expected.
Our MAPS sessions, hosted with a pilot cohort of around 20 high school students, existed to give us the resources we needed to learn components of the SAT and ACT tests, and several practice sessions where we learned from each other through lectures and practice problems.
After our test prep sessions were over around 2013, MAPS began to evolve into a collection of Socratic Seminars analyzing our perspectives, ambitions, and overall life goals. This, without me knowing it, was my first taste of the SPICES platform.
Topics I remember being discussed in these sessions included:
— What a happy and fulfilling life is, and how we could start to prepare ourselves for living one
— What our life ambitions were, and how we could start to establish paths to achieve them
— Effective leadership tactics – our internal and external motivations for achieving our ambitions
— Many of the racial, social, and economic hardships that impeded upward mobility in our Latinx community, as well as the differences and similarities between the cultures we all came from.
— Ways we could use our ambitions to impact other people positively
At first, I was confused as to why a college prep course would dedicate time to talking about subjects which had nothing to do with the ACT or SAT. Now I see what Sarai was doing: She was setting us up to ask what life we wanted to pave for ourselves once we got to college, and beyond.
I feel the biggest mistake people (especially my age) make is charging down career or life paths without careful consideration of their personal ambitions, happiness, and legacies. They hear talk of good money or stability, and barrel down pathways hoping they’ll like the lives they end up with. This, I feel, is why so many people look at themselves when they’re 30 and find themselves unhappy. They’ve climbed to the top of a mountain they never wanted to stand on.
SPICES, on the other hand, is a set of guidelines that moves away from this classic trap. The platform begins with an analysis of the heart and soul of your personal ambition, and ends with giving you the strategies you need to maximize your ability to achieve what you strive for.
How do I know that it works?
I’m one of its early benefiters.
When I was six, I identified my personal ambition to be a filmmaker. I knew that the purpose of my life was to entertain and challenge people through cinematic art.
I had several people, teachers and parents, tell me that becoming a filmmaker would lead to stress and financial difficulty. I was told to avoid the route completely and go into engineering or computer science. At 14, I was almost considering giving up on my ambition and agreeing with many of these adults around me who told me to give up. Why would they lie, after all?
Then I encountered SPICES.
Through SPICES, I gained the courage to follow an atypical life path, and through the teachings of the program, was able to harness my personal strengths to make a film career happen for myself. I have no formal ties to the film industry. My Dad is a dishwasher, my mother is a homemaker.
After helping start a drama class in my high school’s lackluster educational curriculum, I was accepted to attend school for Film and TV Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts on full scholarship. It’s the most expensive and selective film school in the country.
I went through 4 years of intense production curriculum, entrusting that my love of impacting people through art and adoration of the film medium would pull through, and it has!
Since graduating from USC’s Film School in 2018, I have worked for Fox Sports West, Los Angeles Metro, The National Association for Latinx Independent Producers, Fine Brother Entertainment, and countless other independent ventures. I’ve sound designed several shorts and a feature film, and acted as cinematographer on three independent feature films and several shorts and music videos.
My personal directorial work, largely in documentary, has been shown in festivals around the country, and I’m privileged to say that I am now making a living doing what I love in a career field I want to be in.
And I’m just getting started. I live to entertain and provoke thought in people through my art.
SPICES helped me realize that. SPICES helped make that into a reality. Sarai’s insights will get you far. Trust me.”