Even Astronauts Need Love
Now that you mentioned it little boy, damn, so do we.
Get ready for some real inspiration.
While the other 6-year-old kids were biking around their neighbourhoods in the late 1960s, José Hernádez was picking strawberries in the fields of California with his parents.
You see, his parents were migrant farm workers from Mexico. And for 9 months out of every year, he would work with them — picking fruit for the other kids to eat.
As a youngster, José did not have the luxury of free time. He worked weekends and seven days a week during Summer holidays. But working hard is a good thing.
After all, that’s how astronauts are made 🚀
Field of dreams
Since seeing the Apollo 17 moon mission on TV at the age 10, José knew his future was in the stars.
As a teenager, José recalls the exact moment that he knew being an astronaut was possible for him, “I was hoeing a row of sugar beets in a field near Stockton, California, and I heard on my transistor radio that Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps.”
(For background info, Chang-Diaz, a Costa Rica native, was the first Hispanic astronaut.)
When young José told his father that he wanted to fly in space, his papa replied, “you can do it.”
Dealing with rejection
Whether with work, with love or with education, we’ve all been rejected at some point. José, however, does set the bar pretty high.
He did everything he could to get into NASA.
He studied engineering throughout college and graduate school and, in order to work with the Russians on the International Space Station (ISS), he learned to speak Russian.
After 6 years of failed applications to NASA, he realized becoming a pilot increased his odds of getting selected, so he got his license to fly. He then also got his scuba diving certification and started running marathons to get in shape. And after 5 more years of failed applications (calculators out, we’re at 11 years now), at the age of 42, he finally got accepted to “fly in space.”
Take note people. That is what never giving up looks like.
José’s story is one in a million.
Success, however, doesn’t only mean becoming an astronaut. (Though it’s most definitely up there.)
The secret to José’s success story (recipient of the 2016 National Hispanic Hero Award, by the way), are the real heroes behind his journey — his parents and his wife.
His parents knew what a future without an education looked like. They lived it their entire lives. They never forced him to get straight A’s, but they made it very clear to him that without hard work at school, he would always live and work in the fields.
And it was José’s wife, who — when she found his 6th denied application to NASA — pushed him to not give up on his lifelong dream.
Love, the bigger message
No doubt, the humbling, physical work of picking fruit at a young age provided José with the grit to overcome the challenges that life throws at us all.
But to get to space (literally), it took love. And lots of it.
The love and support from those closest to you plays a huge role in fueling your ambitions and dreams. So be sure to encourage those around you to live out their dreams.
You might just give the love needed to a future spaceman / spacewoman. Mars anyone?
PS > These days, José is busy spreading the love via his foundation, Reaching for the Stars. The goal is to encourage young students that with education, anything is possible.
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