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NASA astronaut visits Temple College, speaks to Central Texas students

Jose M Hernandez.jpeg
Posted at 9:14 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-18 22:14:28-04

TEMPLE, Texas — NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez paid a visit to Temple College on Tuesday to share more about his journey from migrant farm worker to the International Space Station.

Hernandez spoke to hundreds of middle school, high school and college students Tuesday morning.

Hernandez, a California native, went to space in 2009 as a part of the STS-128 Discovery mission.

He spoke about his life and career and spoke about the adversity he had to overcome as the son of an immigrant family.

"You know, education is the great equalizer, guys," Hernandez told students.

He has become an advocate for students heading into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics career paths.

"We need to engage every segment of society. Every color, religion is involved in it if we want to be successful," Hernandez said of the growing need for people to enter STEM careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of STEM jobs increased by 79 percent in the last three decades and is expected to increase 11 percent more by 2030.

Several students at Tuesday's events said they resonated with the first generation college graduate's story.

"I think the thing that most stuck with me is that he didn't learn how to speak English until he was 12 years old. The same thing happened to me," said Belton New Tech High School student Carla Garcia.

Hernandez hopes to encourage students to aim for their dream careers and achieve them with clear goals and perseverance.

"The sky's not the limit anymore. The stars are, because I'm living proof of that," Hernandez said.