San Marcos,
09:18 AM

Latino NASA Astronaut José Hernández to Speak at CSUSM Conference, March 21

Media Advisory by Margaret Chantung

What: Under the leadership of Director Minerva Gonzalez, the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies at eight universities and colleges across the state. This year, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) will host the annual California CAMP Leadership Conference, ”Harvesting Stars/Cosechando Estrellas.

Why: The CAMP Statewide Conference is a collaborative effort by the California CAMP Directors Consortium. Each year over 100 students from across California attend to participate in workshops and activities with the objective of building and enhancing their leadership skills.

CAMP’s mission at CSUSM is to provide entering first-year students with an array of support services and opportunities for cultural affirmation that lead to personal and educational success as measured by exceptional levels of community involvement and academic persistence to graduation.

Who: José M. Hernández, the first migrant farm worker to become a NASA astronaut, will be the keynote speaker.

Hernández was the first migrant farmworker to become a NASA astronaut. Born into a migrant farm working family from Mexico, Hernández—who didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old— spent much of his childhood on what he calls the “California circuit,” traveling with his family from Mexico to California’s southern San Joaquin Valley each March, then working northward to the Stockton area by summer, picking strawberries, cucumbers, cherries and tomatoes along the way. In late November, Hernández and his family would return to Mexico for Christmas, waiting for March to start the cycle all over again.

Hernández eventually obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering. After a successful career as an engineer and scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he was selected as part of the 19th class of U.S. Astronauts in 2004.

When: The three-day conference starts Friday, March 20 and runs through Sunday, March 22. Hernández will speak at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 21.

Where: The keynote will take place at CSUSM in the University Student Union ballroom – 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., San Marcos