FOX News Honors Hispanic Heritage Month: First Migrant Farm Worker to Become a NASA Astronaut

-By Warner Todd Huston

Fox News has been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15) and this week the cable newser featured a very interesting profile of the first Hispanic migrant farm worker that went on to become a NASA astronaut!

As part of its month-long celebration, each Friday Fox News is featuring a profile of an important person in our society. Last week Fox profiled the brothers who run Goya Foods, Bob and Peter Unanue, this week it was José Hernández who flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The series is being helmed by the Ailes Apprentice Program and the Hernández interview was handled by Ailes Apprentice Alicia Acuna.

From Fox, “The Ailes Apprentice Program is a program designed to support and promote diversity in broadcast and cable journalism. Celebrating its ninth year of success, Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes started the program after recognizing a lack of diversity in the industry. A few of the program highlights include: a full-time position, comprehensive mentoring, hands-on training, development meetings with FOX News Channel and FOX Business Network executives, as well as an opportunity to network and shadow anchors/reporters of the various departments of the channels.”

Here is Acuna’s interview…

Tune in each Friday to Fox & Friends to see host Elisabeth Hasselbeck introduce each new segment until Oct. 15.


Jose Hernandez: “As a kid, we used to come out here and used to pick strawberries. It taught me to work hard, to be patient and that you got to work for it. Every time I collected that paycheck, believe me I felt I earned every penny of it.”

Alicia Acuna: “Like any typical migrant farm working family, every spring Jose’s family would make the 2 day journey from Mexico to the Central Valley of California, there they would spend the next 9 months working from farm to farm picking whatever fruit or vegetable was in season.”

JH: We would go from place to place, rent a 2 bedroom shack, basically and my parents would work in the fields Monday through Friday. We would go to school, but come Saturday and Sunday we would be right beside them working in the fields. While all of my friends loved summer vacation, the Hernandez kids hated it because we knew that represented 7 days of work in the fields picking crops.

AC: “In spite of having just a 3rd grade education, his parents understood the importance of school and demanded Jose and his siblings work just as hard in the classroom.”

JH: “I remember one day we finished picking cucumbers, and we all got in the back of the car, all muddy and tired and my father just turned around and made eye contact with each one of us and asked, ‘How you guys feel?’ And of course I was the one to answer first I said, ‘Well, how do you expect us to feel? We are tired,’ and he says, ‘Good. Remember this feeling because you guys have the privilege of living your future now. I’m not going to force you to go to school. I’m not going to force you to get good grades, but if you don’t this is your future. You think about it, you be the judge.’”

AC: “In 1972, Apollo 17 captured the imagination of the nation and inspired a little boy tuning in on television.”

JH: “I was holding the antenna when I was watching Eugene Cernan walk on the moon and I would hear NASA and Walter Cronkite narrate the moon walk, hear them talk with mission control center, then I would go outside and I would see the moon outside, come back inside and see the moon walk. I did that about 3 or 4 more times and I said, “Mama, Papa, that’s what I want to do. I want to be an astronaut.”

AC: “Instead of steering Jose away from such a big dream, his father sat him down and gave him something more important – belief.”

JH: “He looked at me in a challenging way and said, ‘That’s what you really want to be?’ Yes sir. And then he said, ‘I think you can do it.’ My eyes got this big. ‘You just have to follow a simple recipe. Draw yourself a road map. What are the steps needed to get there? You can’t skip steps. You’ve got to pay your dues,’ he said. And then he says, ‘You have to have a good work ethic and Corazon, heart. He says, ‘You mix all of that up together, that is the recipe for you to be an astronaut.’ I remember going to bad that evening so happy because I said, ‘Wow. My parents think I could be an astronaut, so therefore I am going to be an astronaut.’”

AC: “It wouldn’t be easy. Jose applied 12 times in his many years before being accepted into NASA’s 2004 astronaut candidate class. Then aboard the space shuttle Discovery in August 28th, 2009 his dream became a reality.”

JH: “There I am sitting in my orange suit with a helmet on and thinking, ‘Wow, just 32 years ago I was working in the fields, picking cucumbers at 50 cents a bucket. Now, here I am with the American flag on my shoulder getting ready to blast off into space, getting ready to represent NASA and the United States.” I said what a great country, what opportunities we have if we only know how to take advantage of them and work hard. This country offers a lot to us.”

AC: “In 2011, with the space shuttle program winding down. Jose left NASA to spend more time with his family and decided to run for congress. He lost in a narrowly decided race to the incumbent, but vows to run again and one day serve his neighbors.”

JH: “It took me 12 tries to be an astronaut, you think I’m going to quit my first try to become a congressman? I don’t think that’s in my nature.”

Narrator: “Belief is a big thing in Jose’s life. It’s carried him to this point and it’s something he hopes to pass on to his children.”

JH: “I would like to be remembered as someone who inspired others to reach their full potential. Folks should not afraid to dream for something big. You don’t have to do it one day, you don’t have to do it one year, you don’t have to do it 5 years. So little by little, as long as you’re moving forward, just keep moving forward. Don’t ever give up on yourself.”

Filed under: Fox News, Hispanics, History

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