Alpha’s second middle school is named after astronaut José M. Hernández.
José was born in French Camp, CA to his migrant farmworker parents from La Piedad, Michoacán, with indigenous Purépecha roots. As a child, José worked alongside his family and other farmworkers in the fields throughout California, harvesting crops and moving from one town to another while attending many different schools.
He became enamored with space when he watched Apollo 17 on television as a child and decided he wanted to be an astronaut. He didn’t learn to speak English until he was 12, but once in High School, José participated in the Upward Bound program that helped him prepare for college.
After graduating from Franklin High School in Stockton he participated in MESA, an academic preparation program that provides support to students to obtain degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering or math fields. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of the Pacific in 1984 and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1986.
After multiple rejections on his 12th attempt he received the call that would make his dream of becoming an astronaut come true. Hernandez was assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128, which launched in 2009.