To inspire her students and pique their interest in science, San Jose teacher Victoria Ramirez has invited retired NASA astronaut José M. Hernandez to speak at Voices College-Bound Language Academy and their families in April.

Here is some information about Hernandez:

Born in 1992 to farm workers in French Camp in San Joaquin County. Picked crops as his family migrated annually from Mexico to Central California.

Received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from University of the Pacific, Stockton.

Received a master's degree in engineering from UC Santa Barbara.

Holds an honorary doctorate from University of the Pacific.

Worked on a full-field digital mammography imaging system, a tool in early detection of breast cancer, at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

Role model is Franklin Chang-Diaz, NASA's first Latino astronaut.

Flew NASA's 128th shuttle mission as a flight engineer with the Discovery crew in 2009. The shuttle orbited the earth 217 times and delivered 18,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. Landed at Edwards Air Force Base.

Runs the Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which awards scholarships and holds an annual space conference.

Co-author of "Reaching for the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut" (Center Street, 2012).

Also has a pilot's license, scuba dives, knows conversational Russian.


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Quote: "One of the things that was tough for us was to learn the English language as a kid because we were going from school district to school district, three or four school districts throughout the year, and then we would miss about three or four months of school when we went back to Mexico. So, my refuge was math because one plus one was two in any language."

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.