Alex Fernando’s knowledge of Husker sports and his extensive collection of memorabilia, including items from belt buckles to posters to red suits, earned him a nickname among friends: Mr. Husker.
One prized item is an autographed Tommie Frazier jersey from his mom. She won the item at a silent auction during a family reunion when Fernando was a kid.
“I really wanted that jersey for my room,” he said. “So my mom and her sister were battling line by line in the last seconds of the auction. It was a really funny story at our family reunion for years and it shows the passion my mom had as well as the rest of our family.”
Through his work as assistant director of recruitment at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Fernando is sharing his lifelong Husker fandom and enthusiasm for the university with the next generation of the J-School’s students.
“I just keep trying new things and I keep getting new opportunities because of this place, because of the skills I’ve learned here, because of the people I meet here, and I want other people to see that,” he said.
While Fernando was growing up in Jefferson, South Dakota, his mother, who grew up in Neligh, Nebraska, instilled a love for the Huskers in her son. He dreamed of playing football for Nebraska, and his interest in heading to Lincoln initially focused on Husker athletics. He realized suiting up was not in the cards, but arriving on campus opened his eyes to other opportunities.
“I got to finally call myself a Husker and see there’s so much more to it,” he said.
He came on a campus tour while in high school and further cemented that he wanted to come to Lincoln. While on the tour, Fernando’s mom said he could not be involved in everything on campus.
“I looked at her and I said, ‘Watch me,’” he said.
As a student, Fernando was a campus tour guide, a New Student Enrollment leader, hosted shows on KRNU, and served on the college’s Student Advisory Board and the Student Alumni Association.
A love for college football had Fernando planning to study athletic training and sports medicine — unfortunately, he soon realized he was not studying what he loved. After chatting with some friends, he tried an introductory broadcasting course with Rick Alloway, associate professor of broadcasting.
“Having him in lectures, just listening to him, is a good day,” Fernando said. “I could listen to him all day.”
The course led him to become a broadcasting major, in large part because he fell in love with the hands-on opportunities the college offered. Those included early experiences broadcasting on KRNU and getting a camera in his hands in a video production class.
Fernando still incorporates sports into his life outside of the office. He writes a college football blog, broadcasts for Peru State basketball and helps coach football at Standing Bear High School. He also works as a DJ for weddings and events and holds a private pilot’s license.
Fernando received his master’s degree in business administration in December, five years to the day after he received his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and business administration. He started in his current position almost immediately after graduating with bachelor’s degree.
Fernando frequently gives campus tours and hosts prospective students, helps organize events, and also holds workshops for high school students. Fernando hosted 103 workshops in the fall 2023 semester on campus and in high schools. He said he loves supporting journalism educators in this way and introducing their students to media skills they can use at the next level. Fernando said it’s meaningful to see a spark ignite in the students when they realize some of the opportunities they could have, like broadcasting a No. 1-rated Husker volleyball team.
“It shows all the students what you get to do at the next level,” he said. “They just light up…It’s like, ‘This is what you get to do next year.’”
Hannah Roebke, a junior in broadcasting and sports media and communication and college ambassador, met Fernando when she participated in a photography workshop in her hometown of Seward, Nebraska.
“You could tell he was super passionate about what he was doing and he was really excited he got to work with students,” she said. “He really wanted us to succeed and get a lot out of this workshop.”
That day, Fernando met with participants individually and Roebke expressed her interest in media and reporting. Fernando encouraged her to participate in a summer camp for high school students, and when she later enrolled at Nebraska, he eventually hired her as an ambassador. Joining the team was a surreal full circle moment for Roebke because Fernando and the ambassadors she met in high school played a big role in her decision to come to Nebraska, she said.
Working with the ambassador team is Fernando’s favorite part of his job. Fernando said those students have designed and led their own workshops and can handle recruitment events on their own if he has more than one event occurring at the same time.
“They’re so talented and so amazing,” he said. “Being able to trust they can take over and run an event without me is really helpful.”
Roebke said Fernando is driven and expects a lot from the team. She said it means a lot to her that Fernando is willing to give them that much responsibility.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that he trusts us,” she said. “I think that’s a testament to not only the ambassador’s work but also Alex’s work too because he’s trained us to be prepared.”
Roebke said Fernando is always a listening ear and his passion resonates with everyone on the ambassador team and drives their work.
“Seeing Alex’s love for the college has helped me grow and love Nebraska and the College of Journalism even more,” she said. “It’s really nice to be able to see my love for the college grow every day by working along with him.”