Prairie Stars on the Move: Elijah Hernandez and Humans of UIS


Elijah Hernandez started Humans of UIS as a way to try to bring people on the campus of UIS together and to focus on the stories that everyone has to tell. A senior nursing student through the UIC school of nursing in Springfield, Elijah decided to do something similar to the Humans of UIC, which is based on the original Humans of New York.

    Humans of New York is a series of pictures taken from random people of New York City and many other places, and people have tried to do similar pieces. Elijah was a member of the group from UIC, and then he transferred to Springfield his junior year to start a new series independently at the new location.

    In order to create a Humans of UIS piece, a student is chosen completely at random on campus.  This is usually done by Elijah simply walking around campus and asking people if they would like to be interviewed and pictured.  If they say yes, he then proceeds to interview them. He then uses that interview to build a story about that person, trying to get as much personality in the story as possible.  The final draft of the story is sent to that person for final review before being posted, along with a picture of the person.

    The point of choosing the students at random, and the point of the project as a whole, is to show that everyone has a story to tell.  Race, gender, sexuality, religion, social class, age, and nationality do not matter when it comes to these stories, and this shows our shared human experience.

   The goals of this project go beyond simply meeting deadlines and never missing a post, although those are important as well.  The purpose of these stories and images is to show the viewer that every person has a unique story to tell, and most people want someone to listen. All it takes to get someone to start talking is asking them questions about their lives, and often they will say something unexpected. The people who participate in the interviews and the viewers see that it is ok to tear down the walls that people build around themselves and instead communicate with people they may never have met before. When asked what his goal with this project was, Elijah said “with my project, I really hope it makes a positive impact on those who shared their stories. I just want to make a positive impact on people.”

     To see Elijah’s project, visit the Facebook page on Facebook at Humans of UIS.