G1DPR Speaker Series Launch – An Astronomical Welcome to a NASA Giant

We kicked off 2016 by welcoming Engineer and NASA Astronaut, Jose Hernandez, as Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera’s inaugural Latino-Student Empowerment Speaker at El Rancho High School.

From students and parents, to teachers and city officials, to heads of colleges and universities, we came together to embrace Jose’s message to our students; that anything is possible if you create a map of where you want to go, study hard and always give more of yourself than what people expect.

When Gilbert and I thought of ways to inspire our youth on their road to college, we concluded, what better way than to create a forum that highlights prominent and successful Latinos who have graduated from college and whom can share their personal stories of perseverance with them. This is just the initial spark of a series of speakers we’ll be connecting with this year.

Jose shared his incredible story of growing up, one of four children, in a migrant farming family that would travel yearly between Northern California and Mexico. After his 2nd grade teacher suggested to his parents that they consider settling in one location so that Jose and his siblings could focus on their education, the family settled in Stockton, California. Jose would go on to receive his education at the University of the Pacific and UCSB, and in 2009, fly into space as a NASA Astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

He passionately shared his four stages for reaching a goal:

  • “First, decide what you want to be in life and meet those minimum requirements, get that college degree.
  • Second, look at other people who are already there. What attributes do they have that you don’t have?
  • Third, rise above the competition. You’ve got to distinguish yourself.
  • Finally, never, ever give up on yourselves. It wasn’t easy for me. NASA told me no, eleven times. It wasn’t until the twelfth time that I finally got selected as a NASA astronaut. That’s perseverance,” he said.

We’re very grateful for his visit and can’t wait to see what else is in store for students as we continue with our speaker series this year!