NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez

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As the child of poor migrant workers, Jose Hernandez worked picking fruits and vegetables in the sun-drenched fields of California. One day while hoeing a row of sugar beets he listened to a transistor radio and learned that fellow Latino Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps. At that very moment he promised himself that he was going to do everything in his power to become a NASA astronaut. He later attended the University of the Pacific and UC Santa Barbara — and pursued jobs that opened doors for him.

In 2004, after 12 years of applying, he was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate. Five years later Hernandez’s dream came true when he rocketed into space as a crew member of the 128th shuttle mission and the 30th mission to the International Space Station. Today, with his foundation Reaching for the Stars, he inspires thousands of children around the world to follow their dreams. In this interview, Hernandez talks with Maria Hinojosa about his long journey from the dusty fields of California to the International Space Station.

Maria on her interview with Jose:

"Jose Hernandez used to look up at he moon when he was working the fields picking the food for his fellow Americans to eat. He felt small but not invisible as a farm worker. And so he allowed himself to dream one of the most unlikely dreams -from farm worker to astronaut. And he did it!

When I want to feel inspired after life's challenges all I need to do is think of Jose Hernandez and his uplifting smile and the fact that what he enjoys most -except for being on a space ship- is being a role model and encouraging the next generation of multicultural space explorers."

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