CareerWise Youth Apprentice at Pinnacol Assurance
2022 Colorado Apprenticeship Award Winner in the Apprentice Category
Nina Hernandez is an Employee Services apprentice at Pinnacol Assurance, alumni of Denver North High School, co-chair of Pinnacol’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group, and an advocate for the community. They value hard work, honesty and passion, especially in a professional environment.
In addition to an apprentice role, Nina volunteered for several culturally focused leadership and ambassadorship positions. They represented the Pinnacol’s Apprenticeship Program recruiting efforts in various high schools and provided perspective on how to successfully support work-based learners in speaking engagements. Nina also participated in a BIPOC video series to educate colleagues on indigenous people’s struggles and culture.
Nina aims to create a diverse and open workplace that’s welcoming and supportive. In the two years Nina has served as an apprentice, their professional and cultural contributions have far exceeded expectations. We’re thrilled to have their talents as a part of our community.
Nina makes powerful contributions, furthering inclusivity professionally and culturally
When Nina applied in 2019, they were excited to join a community-minded company. At the same time, Pinnacol was galvanizing to make DEI a business imperative.
Passionate about DEI and a supportive workplace, Nina was drawn to Employee Services. Nina was fearless, taking on challenges and identifying their own strengths.
Nina flawlessly executed technology integration tasks and created a professional development plan that’s now a program standard. “When I give Nina a vision, they take it and make it grander than I could imagine,” said their supervisor, Leressie Ashley.
Nina is a key DEI contributor. At 16, they proactively developed a working relationship with leadership. Today, they’re mastering critical thinking and accountability.
“If we continue to support Nina’s gifts and talents, we’ll be better for it. You don’t come across this type of potential every day,” added Nina’s mentor, Silvia Fuentes.
Nina steps outside of their comfort zone to create a positive impact.
In HR, Nina had a front row seat to the evolution of Pinnacol’s DEI program. They saw a more diverse workspace unfolding, and it spoke to them. Nina was impressed with the commitment to inclusion and they’re a key contributor to this cultural shift.
During Pride Month, Nina volunteered as an LGBTQIA+ panel participant, and with a little encouragement, wound up serving as a panelist and co-chair of the LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group.
Public speaking didn’t come easily to Nina – despite their anxiety, they knew they’d need to face this fear to make an impact. This was a pivotal moment in Nina’s apprentice journey. They noted the opportunity built confidence and opened doors to educating others and representing Pinnacol to the community.
“Nina takes advantage of challenging opportunities because they understand that the potential is greater than overcoming stage fright,” said Silvia.
Nina is a natural leader with enthusiasm to learn and unmatched accountability
Without leadership and accountability, a DEI program can be merely performative. Nina’s maturity and advanced leadership skills contribute to the program’s authenticity.
Nina sets audacious goals and makes time to reflect on mistakes (it’s even in their PD plan). They lead by example and focus on inclusion and belonging. Whether they’re ensuring everyone’s birthday is celebrated or they’re challenging leadership, they always do the right thing. “I don’t think about titles. I’m not intimidated by them,” said Nina.
Leressie detailed an interaction that showed their strengths: “I misspoke in a DEI meeting. Nina corrected me promptly and appropriately with grace. Nina was born to lead and makes a great impact just by being themself.”
Silvia shared, “Nina is willing and eager to share their identity, taking the lead to create a safe space. When they show up as their most authentic self, it invites us to do the same.”