NASA astronaut to share life journey with students

From migrant farmworker to a NASA astronaut, Jose Hernandez, pictured, will be speaking about his life and career journey to students and faculty at Harvey Mudd College next Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. Photo from

NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez will visit Harvey Mudd College on Wednesday, March 9 to share his life’s journey with students at an Office of Institutional Diversity (OID) event titled “Perseverance: a trait that takes you to new heights.” And did it ever for Hernandez.

Beginning at 6 p.m. in Galileo Hall, at 240 Platt Blvd., Hernandez will talk about his early days as a migrant farmworker, working a route with his family he dubs the “California Circuit,” before eventually punching through the stratosphere as a NASA astronaut. Hernandez will also explain “the obstacles and rejections he had to overcome to fulfill the ultimate American dream of becoming a U.S. NASA astronaut,” HMC wrote online.

For details or to RSVP, visit the page here. After registering, the Zoom link will be emailed to you prior to the event. For more information, contact Jennifer Alanis at

The OID event is co-sponsored by the HMC offices of Institutional Diversity, HMC’s Career Services, Campus Life and Community Engagement, Chicano Latino Student Affairs, the Asian American Resource Center, first-gen Forward, Society of Professional Latinos in STEM (SPLS), Project Decode, and the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Working Group.

About Hernandez — from Harvey Mudd College

One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, Jose Hernandez — who didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old and 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 the Hernandez family 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 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. There, he continued his engineering studies and in 1987, he accepted a full-time job at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he had worked as a co-op during 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.


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