Graduation Day- “Reach for the Stars”

Saturday the 14th was my cousin’s kid’s graduation day from UC Santa Barbara. I wasn’t expecting much aside from heat and chaos so I was pleasantly surprised that the graduation speaker actually had something to say that was memorable.

His name is Jose Hernandez and he was born in French Camp. If you’ve ever known anyone from French Camp, you know it is a migrant labor settlement. He spoke of following his parents as they moved from job to job picking  strawberries, lettuce, whatever. Finally a teacher took an interest in the family and convinced the parents to settle near Stockton so that the kids could get a real education.

One night in 1972, the family watch Gene Cernan walk on the moon. Jose told his father, “That’s what I want to do”.   His father told him that he could do it but he needed to make himself a roadmap to follow. “And don’t skip any of the steps.”

Jose graduated from high school in Stockton although he had not learned English until he was twelve. He earned a BSEE from the University of the Pacific and then an MS from UC Santa Barbara. He joined the Johnson Space Center and held a number of assignments while applying for the astronaut program. He applied again, was rejected again.  NASA let it be known they would like their personnel to know some Russian (for space station work). He learned Russian.  He pursued every avenue they suggested. Finally,  after TWELVE TIMES,  he was accepted into the 2004 astronaut class and on August 28, 2009 he achieved his dream: two weeks on the Space Shuttle Discovery. He sent the first tweet from space in Spanish.

 Since then he has run for Congress, unsuccessfully. Clearly we haven’t heard the last from him.  His “Reach for the Stars” foundation encourages kids to explore careers in space.  The gloom and doom which was underlying the ceremony due to the recent murders in Isla Vista could have taken over, but didn’t have a chance after Jose finished speaking. It was a good day, and he didn’t skip any of the steps.

FOOTNOTE: The road from the Bay Area up here is an AWFUL ROAD which seems to get worse every year. I kept thinking how much it would be to be riding a bus or a nice relaxing TRAIN. Talk about reaching for the stars! 




8 thoughts on “Graduation Day- “Reach for the Stars”

  1. Oh, so it’s not so much the roads are in bad shape, you just don’t like driving!

    Well, I don’t particularly like driving either, but the drive from Benbow on southward to Cloverdale. I almost enjoy. If I didn’t have to make the drive I might enjoy it.

    The wife’s father can’t handle the Bay Area traffic and has essentially said he won’t drive down there anymore. I don’t do well with it, either, and wonder when I’ll have to stop driving down there?

  2. °Road ragers, tailgaters, distracted drivers, hand held cell phones, speeders, a moment of inattention and one could end up at the bottom of a lagoon dead for a year.
    °Left turn lane headed north at Big Lagoon is also the fast lane. Beware vehicles at dead stop in the fast lane.
    °There is a strawberry field stand where vehicles can be at a dead stop waiting for a safe left turn blocking HW101 North in the Southern stretch.
    °For tourism, the train from Willits to Eureka would fill the town with tourists shopping, dining, staying in hotels overnight.
    °We never seem to get it together when it comes to cruise ships.
    °Currently, I find it very hard to get through the redwood curtain. A nice stop either way I find is the Peg House. The Peg House features Humboldt grass-fed beef burgers, fresh Arcata Bay oysters, tri-tip sandwiches, and fresh wild blackberry sundaes. The store has everything from groceries and books to camping gear—beware the bathrooms. The outdoor stage area is a garden oasis. Their sandwiches, sides and brownies are top of the line.
    69501 Hwy 101 N.
    Leggett, California 95585
    °The Willits bypass and Richardson Grove projects are typical of our let’s keep the redwood curtain intact mindset dividing our community.

    • Totally agree. And I made a point of stopping at the Peg House on the way down (last Thursday) and was blown away by the burger and homemade lemonade. I will make it a regular stop when I have to drive that way again. Thanks for reminding me about the AAB. I’m not quite functioning yet due to trip fatigue and a horrible sunburn.

  3. You wrote, “The road from the Bay Area up here is an AWFUL ROAD which seems to get worse every year.“.

    I keep hearing that, but don’t get it. I’ve driven 101 from San Francisco to Eureka umpteen times and it’s always seemed pretty nice to me. Any particular sections that bother you?

    • Maybe it’s just old age getting to me but to me everything north of Cloverdale is a nightmare, especially the parts with the concrete blocks on the right side. I used to zip up and down 101 like its was nothing. It’s something and four hours of white knuckle driving is too much, for me anyway. .

      • With me it’s the exact opposite, unless you have your directions backwards. South of Cloverdales sucks. Not because the roads are bad, they’re just more congested. Maybe you meant south?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.