March 9, 2022
240 Platt Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
Jose Hernandez shares his journey from migrant farmworker to astronaut, including the obstacles and rejections he had to overcome to fulfill the ultimate American dream of becoming a U.S. NASA astronaut.
One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, Hernandez—who didn't learn English until he was 12 years old—spent much of his childhood on what he calls "the California circuit," traveling with his family from Mexico to southern California each March, then working northward to the Stockton area by November, picking strawberries and cucumbers at farms along the route. Then they would return to Mexico for Christmas, and start the cycle all over again come spring.
After graduating high school in Stockton, Hernandez enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate program at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he continued his engineering studies. In 1987, he accepted a full-time job with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he had worked as a co-op in college.
While at Lawrence Livermore, Hernandez worked on signal and image processing applications in radar imaging, computed tomography, and acoustic imaging. Later in his career, Hernandez worked on developing quantitative x-ray film imaging analysis techniques for the x-ray laser program. Hernandez applied these techniques in the medical physics arena and co-developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. This system has proven useful for detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage than present film/screen mammography techniques. Hernandez has won recognition awards for his work on this project. He has also worked in the international arena where he represented Lawrence Livermore and the U.S. Department of Energy on Russian nuclear non-proliferation issues.
Co-Sponsors: The HMC offices of Institutional Diversity, Career Services, Campus Life and Community Engagement; Chicano Latino Student Affairs; Asian American Resource Center; First-gen Forward, Society of Professional Latinos in STEM (SPLS); Project Decode; Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Working Group