tags: , Blog

At 10, José Hernández Was A Migrant Farmworker. Today, He’s An Engineer And NASA Astronaut

Share This:

Since the beginning of June, Welcome.US has been sharing personal family stories, PSAs, and photos from celebrities of all backgrounds in commemoration of Immigration Heritage Month.

Perhaps one of the most extraordinary stories to emerge yet from the campaign has been that of José Hernández. At 10, he was a migrant farmworker traveling between Mexico and the US with his parents. The family would spend nine months of the year working the fields of California, and then return to Mexico for the off-season.

In the Welcome.US video, Hernández remembers watching astronaut Gene Cernan – who was the last man to walk on the moon – on the family’s black-and-white TV and deciding that’s what he wanted to be when he grew up:

“My father only has a third grade education. As soon as he saw and heard that I wanted to be an astronaut, he sent me straight to the kitchen table [and] he sat down with me. He says, ‘You know that same work ethic you put out picking cucumbers, tomatoes, cherries on the weekends and seven days a week during the summer?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘You put that work ethic’ and he pointed to my books ‘to your books. And when you graduate, you put it in your job. Always give more than people expect of you, and I guarantee you will become an astronaut.’”

Today, he’s an engineer and former NASA astronaut.

Other Americans who have taken part in the Welcome.US campaign have been Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and “Scandal” star Guillermo Díaz. Today, the campaign also premiered a new video from critically acclaimed actress Adepero Oduye.