MESA Connect Newsletter

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Spring/Summer 2011

Jose Hernandez

Astronaut Hernandez encouraged students to continue on with tough engineering and math courses by telling stories of his upbringing as a farm worker in central California. Here are excerpts of the speech he gave at the 2010 Student Leadership Conference sponsored by PG&E. To watch the full speech go to MESA’s YouTube channel:

"I come from a typical migrant farm working family. Parents had a third grade education . . . Like a lot of farm working families . . . summer vacations meant seven days a week in the fields. Everyday after work as we got into the back seat of the car . . . my father would ask, ‘How do you feel?’ Of course we would say, ‘we’re tired, sweaty, dirty.’ He’d say ‘Good. Remember this feeling because I’m not going to force you to go to school. I’m not going to force you to study. I’m not going to force you to get good
grades. But if you don’t this is what awaits.'

" It’s very important what MESA is doing to entice (students) and support them to stay in (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Technology is what’s going to keep this country being the great country it is today. It behooves us to engage all segments of society in terms of giving them an opportunity to pursue a career in STEM.

"I applaud the efforts of companies like PG&E that step up to the plate and write those checks so MESA can continue doing what it’s doing, all the great things that it’s doing. Because you know, what? I’m a product of MESA. I was a MESA student. I was sitting in the same places you guys are sitting right now. So you see, good products come out of MESA.”


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