Former NASA astronaut visits UTRGV in Edinburg

1 month 17 hours 20 minutes ago Wednesday, April 17 2024 Apr 17, 2024 April 17, 2024 11:50 AM April 17, 2024 in News - Local

The first migrant worker-turned-astronaut was in the Rio Grande Valley Tuesday. 

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg had hundreds of people pack into the Performing Arts Center to hear from a man who has traveled out of this world.

Jose Hernandez is the first migrant farmworker to become a NASA astronaut.

Hernandez is from California. His family moved back and forth from California to Michoacán as seasonal farmworkers.

He spent a chunk of his childhood picking cucumbers and strawberries in Cali's hot and humid fields for 50 cents a bucket, instead of in a classroom.

Despite the odds, Hernandez spoke to students about what inspired him to go after his dreams no matter the amount of odds stacked against him.

"I was watching Apollo 17 moonwalk astronaut Eugene Cernan. Imagine a 10-year-old boy watching on a black and white t.v. with rabbit ear antennas because we couldn't afford cable," Hernandez said.

His father supported his dream and gave him a five-step formula that he hopes others will use.

"He said, 'mijo, you want to do this, do these five things. Define your purpose in life, recognize how far you are from that goal, draw yourself a road map so you know how to get there, prepare for the challenge and develop a work ethic second to none," Hernandez said.

Hernandez says the formula helped him continue persevering after the 11 rejections from NASA started piling up. 

He says the drive to keep going is what he hopes all people, Mexican-American students in particular, will take away from his journey and speech today.

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