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Quincy Grad Profile: Diego Hernandez

Diego Hernandez
The story was originally published in the Winter edition of the Communicator.

QHS alum stays close to home, family with Sabey Data Centers career

When Diego Hernandez, 25, first got his job at Sabey Data Centers in Quincy, he had only ever worked in agriculture and landscaping. 
Diego Hernandez
“I was used to completely different environments, from both the type of work and the people,” he said. “It didn’t even feel like I was working. It was something I wasn’t used to, but in a good way.” 
He started in 2018 when he was 20, a year after graduating from Quincy High School. He said he knew right away that Sabey was a good fit. 

“I was really excited. To this day, my purpose is to do my best. That’s all I had in mind. I thought, ‘I am going to go in there, be friendly, and do my best and do what it takes to be successful,” he said. “As soon as I started here, learning technology, it was like, I understand this, I like this, I want to learn this. And that’s really what helped me be successful.” 

Hernandez is a first-generation immigrant and DACA recipient. His family immigrated to the U.S. from Ecatepec de Morelos in central Mexico and began working in agriculture.  

“As soon as I was able to lift the ladder I was there helping on weekends or during summer vacations,” he said. “I had to grow up quickly. I had to mature quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good childhood, I just had to work hard, and truly I wanted to be able to help my family.” 

After moving around eastern Washington for a few years, the family settled in Quincy where Hernandez completed high school. He didn’t originally plan to work in computer science. 

“Before I graduated, I was already doing college, and I kind of got encouraged to go into the healthcare field,” he said. “Then I met biology and chemistry, and it didn’t really stick.” 

In 2017, he said he saw a news article about Big Bend Community College’s pilot program for preparing students for data center work. 

“I talked to my parents and said, ‘Hey, I want to try this out. It’s local, it’s new, and I want to give it a shot,” he said. “I changed my major to computer science and right away I noticed a difference in motivation because I was actually enjoying it. It was more interesting to me.” 

Through the program, he earned his Systems Administration Certificate of Achievement at Big Bend, and by 2018 he began work at Sabey Data Centers as a facility technician. Since then, he has been promoted twice, now working as an HVAC Engineer 2, and overseeing a team of five technicians.  

“I enjoy talking to people and learning how to communicate with them the way that they like. It’s more complicated and complex than any system,” he said. “That’s my goal for the future: to be more involved with people and management. I like people. I think we need people. There’s only so much we can do alone.” 

Diego recalls how a high school teacher influenced his vision of leadership. He remembers that in a final exam in Mr. Mike Wallace’s Agriculture Mechanics class, he had to disassemble and reassemble a lawn mower engine. However, he had piston rings in the wrong order that caused burnt oil to be exhausted leading to having to open doors to release the fumes.  

“During this event is where I experienced good leadership. Surprisingly to me, Mr. Wallace seemed unphased that my motor was pouring out black smoke, while I was personally panicking inside. Mr. Wallace remained calm and collected. He did not react negatively nor give me negative feedback. Instead, he used this as a positive, humorous learning opportunity. Today, I strive to be that type of leader. I strive to develop others in a positive way and environment, where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities and everyone is treated equally”, said Diego.  

Neither of Hernandez’s parents completed high school, making him a first-generation college student. He said he learned work ethics from his family.  

“They literally went to a completely different country where they don’t even know the language and they found a way to always have food and housing for us, and I always admire that constant drive,” he said. “I’ve been around hardworking people.” 

Hernandez’s employers have noticed his drive. Ryan Beebout, Sabey Data Centers general manager, is a mentor to Hernandez. 

“Hungry, humble and smart. Those are the three soft skills we care about the most. And Diego is the epitome of that,” Beebout said. “He is very driven, very curious, he wants to learn. Everything excites him. Very much a can-do attitude, a team player to the core. A very humble guy. He’s not afraid to ask for help. He just generally wants to learn and grow and improve.” 

As an engineer and manager, Hernandez wears many hats. His computer science background means his strength is in controls and programming, but he also does mechanical work, employee training, hiring and more. 

“I enjoy it. You become well-rounded. It’s not like you’re just doing one thing and that’s all you do. I don’t think I would enjoy that,” he said. “I enjoy being able to learn new things and do things that are different. It keeps it interesting.” 
Hernandez tries to be a role model for his family, including his younger sister who is currently at QHS.  

“I motivate my nephews and sister to want to be good and have a good job,” he said. “I hear my little nephew, one of the smaller ones, telling me what he wants to be in the future. It makes me happy. It tells me he’s got the right mindset. He’s heading in the right direction, and I think I’ve definitely been involved in that and that’s what really makes me happy.” 

Hernandez said that his advice for current Quincy High School students is to start thinking about their futures now. 

“Think about the long run,” he said. “Think about what you can do now that can help you in the future. A lot of what we see today is a lot of people living in the moment, but there’s a future, too, and what you do now will affect you then. Set yourself up for success in the long run.” 

And remember, he said, he didn’t get his career at Sabey overnight.  

“I’ve been here five years. I didn’t just get the position I have now. I started off as a technician, did everything I had to do, and worked my way up to HVAC Engineer 1 and then did my best at that that I could,” he said. “It’s not like I got it instantly. Good things take time. Things are not just handed to you. Hard work is needed, it is required, at least for something good that’s going to last.”