Migrant Farmer, Russian linguist, Master SCUBA diver, Rocket Scientist What More Could you Need? Californias Jose Hernandez Has it All

October 8, 2012
By Catherine Tuttle | 0 comments

Dont most children at some point in their lives dream of becoming an astronaut? Whether its the lure of undiscovered solar systems or simply the outlandish astronaut suits and space food, we have to admit that its crossed most of our minds at some point. And lets face it; our chances are pretty low only one out of every 12,100,000 humans will make it to space. But what separates Californian Jose Hernandez time and time again is success and in 2004 he made it into the astronaut corps and served as a flight engineer aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station in 2009. This accomplishment underscores what keeps putting Jose Hernandez on top his determination, commitment, and perseverance. Hernandezs space aspirations began as they did for a generation of youth that watched Apollo 17 land on the moon. He set his space flight goal early but often concealed the idea from his family whom he thought would consider it too far-fetched. But his goal-driven attitude pushed Hernandez to acquire a strong education and he eventually secured an engineering job at the prestigious Lawrence Livermore National Lab. The road to becoming an astronaut was never easy; Hernandez applied to NASA 12 times and after numerous rejections he strove to improve himself by receiving his pilots license, becoming a master SCUBA diver, and even learning to speak conversational Russian. Hernandezs history gives us a glimpse into his impressive success story that justifies plain old hard work and however clichd, the American Dream. As he worked with his family on the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Hernandez quickly learned that without the security of a solid education, he would never get much farther than harvesting crops. His determination pushed him to create a roadmap for success and at Franklin High School, Hernandez participated in Upward Bound to improve his math and science skills and his early interest in politics got him elected as student body president. Several years later he graduated from University of the Pacific with a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering and eventually a Masters Degree in Engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara. Soon after, while working at Livermore Lab, Hernandez helped develop a strategy to transfer Cold War technology into a digital mammography imaging system which evolved into an invaluable tool in early breast cancer detection. Hes a leader that understands the importance of collaboration; after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Hernandez masterminded a project to transform Russian nuclear weapons into fuel grade material that was sold to the United States, reducing Russias weapons stockpile while benefiting the U.S. nuclear reactor industry. Hernandezs Mexican origins have played an important role in his upbringing and his lifestyle. While serving as a mission specialist on the STS-128 Mission, he became the first person to use Spanish language in orbit via tweets. Hernandez and his family understand the importance of small business. Him and his wife, Adela, also a child of migrant workers, and their five children, owned and ran a family restaurant called Tierra Luna (Earth Moon) with out of this world cuisine. His later civic involvement includes having served as vice president of the national League of United Latin American Citizens. He also recently assisted Mexican officials in creating legislation for starting a space station. After his career with NASA, Hernandez decided it was time to give back to the Stockton community and he knew hed be perfect for the position as someone who is homegrown and understands the issues of the community. Hernandez states that one of his main concerns is education; low student achievement scores pushed him to establish the Jose Hernandez Reaching for the Stars Foundation which promotes science, technology, engineering, and math careers to young students in San Joaquin County. The foundation also awards scholarships to low-income high school seniors to attend the University of the Pacific. Hernandezs engineering background enhances his fresh vision for the local economy which could benefit from increased opportunities in high-tech industries. But all the while he refers to his migrant farming roots and said, I wouldn't turn my back on agriculture. I understand what the issues are in both of those areas. Hernandez is committed to putting Californians back to work and he lives and breathes the importance of community. For seniors, Hernandez promises to keep supporting Social Security and he sees Medicare as one of the most successful programs in history because it ensures that seniors have access to quality health care. He sees both small businesses as a vital way to create jobs as well as big infrastructure projects like the High Speed Rail for infrastructure jobs and enhancement. Hernandez will increase support for military and veteran families by calling for an expansion of military child care installations to full coverage in Congress to ensure that military families receive the best care. We need to become the leaders in green energy by allowing short-term, stop-gap solutions that can lower energy costs and cut dependence on foreign oil. Hernandez has a strong stance on all of the issues affecting the Central Valley community and his commitment is all-encompassing, When a higher calling calls you, take it, because it's not only the best thing for yourself, but also for others around you." This cycle we have a big opportunity to make significant gains in the House, and help move our country forward. Will you join fellow DFA members in pledging to vote Democrat this November so that we can elect, strong leaders like Jose Hernadez and oust the Tea Party Majority. Commit to vote here.

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