Jose Hernandez is the definition of perseverance, the Mexican-American former Astronaut talks about his humble beginnings as a farmer and how he decided he would be an astronaut at just 10 years old.
Hernandez spent most of his childhood working with his parents on the farms in California. He traveled from city to city for nine months, following the fruit and vegetable harvest including traveling to Michoacan, Mexico for three months. While his friends spent their weekend riding their bicycle or watching TV, Hernandez and his 3 siblings spent the weekend and summer vacations working the field.
One day his father asked his 4 children to talk to their teacher and ask for three months worth of homework. This was not uncommon, except to Ms. Young, Hernandez’s 2nd-grade teacher, it was something that bothered her. He remembers his teacher requesting a meeting with his parents and his teacher coming over and having dinner with his family, but at the end of dinner, Ms. Young had a conversation pending.
She explained that she didn’t come here to eat but to talk about their children. “I’ve had the pleasure of having your 4 kids in my class and right now, I have your youngest, Jose, and he has a lot of potential but I’m concerned about his education,” said Ms. Young. His father was confused because education had always been a priority for his kids, and this is why he asked them to ask their teachers for 3 months of homework.
“I’m not like other campesinos, I care about my kids education,” said Hernandez’s father. His children would travel 2 months to central California, 2 months in southern California, 5 months in northern California, and then 3 months in Mexico, it was way too many interruptions.
“Let me give you an example that will help you understand,” she said. “You are an expert in agriculture, you work in the fields and you can help me with this problem that I have. I’m going to give you 4 fruit trees and I want you to look for the best place to plant them. I want you to find the most fertile soil and I want you to water them, fertilize them, but in 3 months I want you to take them out and dig 4 new holes and take those trees and replant them. Then in 3 months I want you to dig 4 more holes and replant them again. Now, you tell me. You’re the expert in agriculture, what happens to the trees in the long run?”
Hernandez’s father stared at the teacher, finally comprehending what she was talking about. Then told her that the trees were not going to build good roots and they were going to be weak and produce any good fruit, just like his children if he kept moving them around. This helped open his father’s eyes and he made some changes in order for his children to have a more permanent home.