Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 10:34 am | Fair 72º


UCSB Alumni Association to Honor Alumnus and NASA Astronaut, José Hernández

José Hernández speaking at UCSB’s 2014 engineering and science commencement ceremony.
José Hernández speaking at UCSB’s 2014 engineering and science commencement ceremony. (Mike Eliason / UCSB photo)

NASA astronaut José Hernández will be honored as UC Santa Barbara’s 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Saturday, Oct. 24, at an awards lunch in the campus’s Corwin Pavilion.

The ceremony also will celebrate UCSB’s status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), a college or university in which Hispanic enrollment comprises a minimum of 25 percent of the total enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students, both full- and part-time.

UCSB was named a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and is the only HSI that is also a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

“We are very excited to have José Hernández return to campus to help us kick off the campaign to raise money for Dreamers’ scholarships,” said George Thurlow, UCSB’s assistant vice chancellor for alumni affairs and executive director of the campus’s alumni association. “José’s story is an inspirational one for all alumni and for all Californians. His work today with Latino youth is even more inspirational.”

Hernández, who earned his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1986, was a mission specialist on Space Shuttle STS-128.

His parents were farmworkers who moved with the crops across the western United States. Hernández did not learn English until he was 12, but he excelled in math and science.

After graduating from Franklin High School in Stockton he went on to the University of the Pacific and then to UCSB. He worked for the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory before being selected for the NASA space program.

Currently, Hernández heads the nonprofit Reaching for the Stars! Foundation, which helps prepare students in the Stockton area for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

In 2014, a middle school in San Jose, Calif., was named for Hernández, and at the school’s official opening he spoke about perseverance, noting that NASA rejected him 11 times before finally accepting him as an astronaut.

Hernández made similar remarks in his 2014 UCSB commencement address. He told engineering and science graduates that “changing the world can happen anywhere, and anyone can do it. … The talent here today can change the world.”

The award lunch begins at 12:30 p.m., and the cost is $25 per person. The public is welcome. For reservations, call Mary MacRae at 805.893.2957.

— Julie Cohen is a science writer for UCSB.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >