Last Updated: September 19, 2023By Tags: ,

A shining example of human potential, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams exists in the cosmos among the countless stars and galaxies in the night sky. Local Stockton man Jose Hernandez journeyed from vast farmland to the boundless reaches of space while carrying the dreams of numerous children who dare to dream big.

Born in French Camp, Stockton, Jose Hernandez’s story begins in a working-class community where determination, hard work, and dreams are woven into the fabric of everyday life. As a farmworker’s son, his hands were familiar with the toil of the fields, and the horizon seemed bound by the endless rows of crops. His unwavering dream of reaching the stars set Jose apart from an early age. Inspired by the Apollo 17 moon landing, he knew that his destiny was in the cosmos, not the fields. 

Becoming an astronaut and going into space wasn’t about fame or recognition; it was about fulfilling a dream deep within his heart.

Jose’s journey to become an astronaut was difficult. Rejected by NASA not once, not twice, but eleven times, he could have easily given up. 

He understood that dreams are not meant to be easily achieved but to be pursued with passion and persistence. With each rejection, he learned, grew, and moved closer to his end goal of becoming a NASA astronaut. 

Hernandez also recognized that his goal to become an astronaut motivated him to accomplish a long list of other great achievements-college and graduate degrees, employment at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, becoming a pilot, learning a third language, and scuba diving certification. All these skills he accomplished on his path to qualifying for his NASA selection were also helping his regular career as an engineer.

On his twelfth attempt, NASA welcomed Jose into the ranks. He became the first Mexican American to venture into the depths of space, turning his dream into a reality that resonated with him and an entire generation.

His life story has been immortalized in the Amazon Studios movie “A Million Miles Away.” 

Jose Hernandez’s journey from farmworker to astronaut is a testament to the power of dreams, hard work, and perseverance. His life story serves as a reminder that our starting point does not define our destination.