2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Laureate; Professor at the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Biological Sciences of Columbia University
As a child, speaker Jose Hernandez cultivated a titanic work ethic while picking crops as a migrant worker. His ingenuity and grit led him to develop pioneering diagnostic equipment, and eventually into space as a NASA astronaut. Now retired from NASA, Hernández shares his stories and life lessons as an immensely popular motivational speaker.
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From harvesting crops across California to collecting data in space, astronaut and motivational speaker Jose Hernandez has led a remarkable life. Now a highly popular speaker, Jose Hernandez inspires audiences with his story of resourcefulness, self-purpose, and perseverance. Jose is also a very popular speaker for schools and universities celebrating the Hispanic Heritage month. His motivational story and STEM advocacy is perfect for younger audiences.
Born into a migrant farming family in Stockton, California, Jose Hernandez spoke only Spanish until age 12. He spent those years on a long circuit up the length of California, harvesting crops from March to November. Growing up on the move gave Hernandez a special kind of self-determination. His parents made sure that no matter how many times he changed schools, no matter how dicey the neighborhoods he lived in, Jose stayed focused and driven to learn.
With a tremendous work ethic built in the sweltering California fields, Hernandez excelled in college. His graduate work in electrical engineering helped secure Hernandez a job at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There, he helped develop an x-ray laser and the world’s first full-field mammography system.
But Hernandez had grown up gazing in wonder at the stars. At age 42, older than most rookie astronauts, Hernandez joined the 19th class of US astronauts. Five years later, he served as the flight engineer on NASA’s two-week-long STS-128 mission. A Netflix film about his life is scheduled for production in 2021.
Additionally, Hernandez is a member of the Eta Kappa New Electrical Engineering Honor Society. He holds degrees—including an honorary LL.D. degree—from UC-Santa Barbara, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2015.
Jose Hernandez's inspiring story of becoming the first Mexican-American astronaut despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks. Growing up as a migrant worker and not learning English until he was 12, Hernandez persevered and worked hard to eventually join an elite team developing technology for early breast cancer detection. His message of determination and striving for greatness resonates as a classic American tale.
Impostor syndrome: a phenomenon that commonly affects high achievers, particularly those who are the first in their family to achieve academic or professional success. These individuals may struggle with self-doubt and a sense of inadequacy, questioning whether they truly deserve the recognition and accolades they have received. Jose will not only explore this topic, but also share strategies he used to overcome his own feelings of impostor syndrome.
In his keynote speech, Hernandez shares his personal experiences of how teamwork played a crucial role in his journey to space, and how it can help others overcome challenges and achieve their goals. He discusses the importance of collaboration, communication, and trust in building successful teams, and offers practical tips and strategies for fostering a culture of teamwork in any organization.
Whether you are a leader looking to inspire and motivate your team, or an individual seeking to achieve your own personal goals, Hernandez's keynote on teamwork is sure to inspire and empower you to reach for the stars.
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