I had the privilege of listening to Dr. José Hernández speak at the California Department of Education STEM Symposium on November 19th. Below is a brief bio of Dr. Hernández.
José Moreno Hernández (born on August 7, 1962), is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut. Hernández was born in French Camp, California, but calls Stockton, California, his hometown. As a child, Hernández worked alongside his family and other farmworkers throughout the fields of California, harvesting crops and moving from one town to another. He attended many schools and didn't learn to speak English until he was 12. Hernández was assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128. He also served as chief of the Materials and Processes branch of Johnson Space Center. Hernández previously developed equipment for full-field digital mammography at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Hernández left NASA in 2011.
Now as memorable as his achievements are one of the points he made in his speech to me was even more impressive and a lesson for us all. Hernández applied to be an astronaut 12 times before being selected. He shared that in this process he learned that there are two types of perseverance—passive and active. The first 6 years Hernández stated that he practiced passive perseverance. He completed the application, was rejected, and then applied again. After six rejections Hernández said he realized that if he wanted to be an astronaut he would have to do more than simply complete an application, and it was at that point he began to employ active perseverance. He examined the class of astronauts that had been selected and determined what this group had that he didn’t have. The sixth year he discovered that the selected group were pilots, so he became a pilot with all of the necessary certifications. The seventh year he looked at the class and discovered that they all had experience in scuba diving—so he became an expert scuba diving. He also became fluent in Russian and represented his company in Siberia. He persisted and was eventually successful because he had transformed himself into the “perfect candidate”.
What a role model for us all! Perseverance is a Habit of the Mind and Perseverance x 2 is what we need to instill in our youth. We encourage you to share his story with your youth and then let us know how the youth responded by sending us information at email@example.com