ODESSA, Texas (BIG 2/ FOX 24)- The American dream, a journey of adversity and resilience.
“My dad came here when he was 15 and basically started an annual tradition of working 9 months here in California and then going back to Michoacan his home state in Mexico. Gets married and then has kids and then when we get older a teacher finally convinces my dad to settle roots,” says José M. Hernández.
He credits the sacrifices of his parents and the guidance of his older siblings in achieving his dream of becoming a NASA astronaut.
“I’m looking at my flight suit and you have the NASA logo, have the American flag and I say ‘how great is this country that gives the opportunity for a first-generation to actually become an astronaut and represent the United States up in space.”
After seeing Apollo Mission 17 at just 10 years old, Hernandez knew right away what he wanted to be and his father’s words of wisdom would help him get there.
“He said; first, decide what you want to be in life, second, recognize how far you are, third, draw yourself a roadmap so you know how to get there, fourth, prepare yourself via good education and fifth, work hard.”
He Never imaged he would also become an Engineer and an Author. Now making it a personal mission to let young bilingual kids like him know they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
“NASA rejected me not once, twice or three times it was 11 times. It wasn’t until the 12th time so I tell these kids ‘if you really want it bad enough you gotta keep at it and eventually you’ll get it.”
Bilingual and ESL Executive Director, Betsabe Salcido, says “one of his quotes is ‘se vale soñar en grande,’ you know, you can dream big. It’s impactful and it’s also transformative because it starts helping them see ‘okay how does my academics and what I do in school tie into the real world.”