José Hernández: From Picking Crops to Reaching for the Stars


José Hernández: From Picking Crops to Reaching for the Stars

The Inspirational Journey of a NASA Astronaut and His Father’s Recipe for Success

José Hernández’s journey from a young boy laboring alongside his Mexican immigrant family in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley to becoming a NASA astronaut is nothing short of inspirational.

In this episode of “LA Stories,” host Giselle Fernandez revisits her conversation with Hernández, highlighting his determination and the profound influence of his father’s unwavering support.

As a child, Hernández watched in awe as the first astronauts walked on the moon, sparking a dream within him to follow in their footsteps.

He confided in his father about this ambitious goal, and his father, without hesitation, provided him with a five-ingredient recipe for success.

This simple yet powerful advice became the cornerstone of Hernández’s journey.

“My father gave me a five-ingredient recipe,” Hernández recalled. “

He told me if you’ve followed to the tee, I promise you, as your father, that you’ll reach a goal.”

With his father’s guidance as his driving force, Hernández pursued his dreams relentlessly. He worked tirelessly throughout high school and college, ultimately becoming an engineer.

His ultimate aspiration was to join the NASA space program, but initial rejections tested his resolve.

Hernández refused to be discouraged by setbacks. Instead, he worked even harder, continually improving himself to stand out among other applicants.

It took twelve attempts, but Hernández’s determination paid off when he was finally accepted into the NASA space program.

At the age of 47, he realized his lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut and flying into space.

Reflecting on that momentous achievement, Hernández marveled at his journey. “To think a mere thirty years or so, I was picking fruits and vegetables.

And, uh, I’m here today, representing the United States as a U.S. NASA astronaut,” he shared with pride.

Today, José Hernández is committed to ensuring that all children, particularly children of color, have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

He founded the Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which exposes young individuals to STEM-related opportunities, opening doors to a world of possibilities.

Hernández’s life has come full circle as he now collaborates with his father once more, this time on a vineyard called Tierra Luna Cellars.

Additionally, a movie about his incredible journey, titled “A Million Miles Away” and starring Michael Peña, has been released by Amazon Studios and is available for streaming on Prime Video.

Throughout his remarkable life, Hernández remains grounded in the wisdom passed down by his father. “Like my dad told me,” he emphasized, “There’s no shortcuts.

You gotta do the work.” José Hernández’s story serves as an enduring testament to the power of perseverance, hard work, and the unwavering support of family.

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