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Astronaut Jose M. Hernandez to visit UTB

BROWNSVILLE, TEXASJANUARY 12, 2010 - Astronaut Jose M. Hernandez will be the keynote speaker at the 7th Annual NASA Space Science Day Friday, January 15 and Saturday, January 16 on the Fort Brown Campus of The University of Texas at Brownsville.

Last August, Hernandez was a member of the Space Shuttle Discovery that traveled to the International Space Station. It was the 128th Shuttle mission and the 30th mission to the ISS.

“We are very excited to have Astronaut Hernandez on our campus,” said Javier Garcia, program director for the South Texas Engineering, Math and Science Program at UTB. “His life story of perseverance and dedication will be an inspiration to all of us.”

Hernandez will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Science, Engineering & Technology Building Lecture Hall. The public is invited to attend his presentation. Admission is free.

On Saturday, he will speak at 8:25 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. to 600 elementary and middle school students from across the Valley, also in the SETB Lecture Hall.

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 picking strawberries and cumbers at farms.

It was in the fields where he decided to become an astronaut. During the early 1980s , Hernandez, a senior in high school at the time, would bring a transistor radio to keep him company when working in the fields. While hoeing sugar beets in his native Stockton, Calif., a report came on: the Astronaut Corps had just recruited Franklin Chang-Diaz, one of the first Hispanic astronauts to go into space.

"I was already interested in science and engineering," Hernandez said in an article posted on his website, "but that was the moment I said, 'I want to fly in space.' And that's something I've been striving for each day since then."

Hernandez went on to earn degrees from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned an electrical engineering degree. He also received a full scholarship to the graduate program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He joined NASA in 2001.

Hernandez’s visit is hosted by UTB’s S.T.E.M.S. Program and the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology.

The S.T.E.M.S. Program was established in 1989 through a NASA grant to provide higher education, career awareness and other educational opportunities for K-16 students.

For more information, please call Javier Garcia, S.T.E.M.S. program director, at (956) 882-5058 or

To learn more about Hernandez, visit his website at

  • Jose M. Hernandez
  • Jose M. Hernandez
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