April Jose Hernandez (PDF)

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Author: Corina Gonzalez,

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Jose Hernandez, The Latino Astronaut, visits LMU
During his senior in high school, Jose Hernandez discovered that
Franklin Chang-Diaz, his inspiration, had been selected for the
Astronaut Corps. At that moment, Hernandez realized that he wanted
to "fly in space.” Born into a family of migrant farmers, Hernandez
spent much of his youth traveling between Mexico and Southern
California to ensure the livelihood his family. Hernandez never
veered from hard work, as traveling so frequently often took a toll on
him. Despite spending three months at a time in Mexico,
Hernandez’s parents valued education. Having the education
equivalent to a third grader, Hernandez’s parents placed an emphasis
on their children’s studies, whether they were acquiring that
education in the classroom or on the road.
“My parents always motivated and set the expectation that school was not an option, but a
requirement.” Hernandez did not master the English language until he was twelve years old, but
the language barrier did not deter him from his studies. He commented that the inconsistent
lifestyle affected his studies until he was in the second grade. His teacher, Ms. Young, made it a
point to not only provide Hernandez with the schoolwork he would miss but also came to his
home to ensure both she and his parents sought his best interests both inside and outside of the
Hernandez defied all obstacles in his way when he received a
B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pacific in
Stockton, CA. Following, he was awarded a full scholarship to
U.C. Santa Barbara, where he further pursued his engineering
studies. In 1987, Hernandez aided in the creation of the first
full-field digital mammography imaging system which spotted
breast cancer in its earliest stage. In 2001, he became a
Materials Research Engineer for NASA, followed by a stint as
the Material and Processes Branch Chief in 2002. In 2009,
Hernandez journeyed to space on the STS-128 to assist NASA
with robotic operations.

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