STOCKTON — There was a special moment during University of the Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science Diploma and Hooding Ceremony on Saturday at Knoles Lawn when 21-year-old Julio Hernandez walked across the stage into the arms of his father.
Jose Hernandez, a former astronaut and current member of the university’s board of regents, had the honor of hooding his son, who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management and a master’s degree in engineering science. Julio Hernandez now hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served as the flight engineer aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2009.
“One small step toward a larger goal of becoming an astronaut,” Julio Hernandez said.
Julio Hernandez is one of about 2,000 members of the Class of 2016 at Pacific. A commencement ceremony was held Saturday morning at Spanos Center followed by several diploma and hooding ceremonies across campus in the afternoon.
Julio Hernandez now is preparing to enroll at Purdue University, where he has accepted a full scholarship to pursue a Ph.D.
“That was his way of telling me he wants to be an astronaut, because we hadn’t discussed it before,” Jose Hernandez said. “I said, ‘Why Purdue?’ He said, ‘Well, dad, I did my research, and I found that the greatest number of astronauts graduated from Purdue University.’ ”
Jose Hernandez was born in French Camp. As a child, he worked with his family and other farm workers throughout California, harvesting crops. He attended many schools as his family moved from one town to another and was not able to speak English until he was 12.
Jose Hernandez graduated from Franklin High School in Stockton and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Pacific. He later earned a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Jose Hernandez was rejected by NASA 11 times before he was accepted for the 2004 astronaut candidate class. On Aug. 28, 2009, he ventured into space on the STS-128 mission to the International Space Station. During that voyage, he became the first person in space to tweet in Spanish.
Julio Hernandez said he was inspired by his father’s story.
“I get a lot of my hard work and my ethic from my dad,” he said. “To become an astronaut from a migrant farmworker, there has to be so much fortitude and drive to achieve history, and I’d like to think I have a little bit of that.”
Julio Hernandez is the oldest of six children in his family, including one adopted daughter. His father said he has set a fine example for his brothers and sisters.
“The only requirement I give my kids is that I want them to graduate from college with a four-year degree,” Jose Hernandez said. “I don’t care if it’s underwater basket weaving. If that’s what you love, knock yourself out — just graduate from college. I certainly don’t put the pressure on them, saying, ‘Hey, you have to be like your old man.’”
And yet that’s exactly what his oldest son is aiming to achieve.
“If he could do it, why can’t I?” Julio Hernandez said. “And why can’t I go farther?”
— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/crimeblog and on Twitter @Stockton911.
...also Maya Georgieva's topic for tomorrow's #FTTE , "Virtual Reality in Education," a Future Trends Forum conversation with Bryan Alexander, https://www.digitalbodies.net/virtual-reality/virtual-reality-in-education-a-future-trends-forum-conversation-with-bryan-alexander/ (also highly recommended)
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