Hispanic Heritage Month will end October 15, 2023. And in celebration, there is a new spotlight on Jose Hernandez who has an out-of-this-world, true story.
As a child Hernandez was a migrant farm worker, toiling in fields in California alongside his Mexican parents and siblings. That hard labor fueled his big dreams of becoming an astronaut. And he never gave up on those dreams, even as NASA turned him down nearly a dozen times.
Now, his inspiring journey from rejection to acceptance has become a feature film called "A Million Miles Away."
Hernandez shared his inspiration to travel to outer space with CBN News' Studio 5.
"The stars always attracted me. When I was a kid, Star Trek, the first run series, was coming on, with Captain Kirk. Then when we would go out in the field, we would go away from the pollution of light of the city. It was still dark and man you can see constellations up above," he said.
"When I was a 10-year-old, I see on the black and white TV, the very last Apollo mission, Apollo 17, Gene Cernan, walking on the moon. That is when it hit me. I was like, 'I want to be like that guy. I want to go to outer space.' I told my dad, and my dad did something incredible. He only has a third-grade education, but he had the wisdom to empower me to believe it because he told me, 'I think you can do it.' As a 10-year-old, I never looked back. As I grew up, I just add perseverance," he continued.
Hernandez described his personal path to perseverance.
"I always tell people when you select something that you are going after, make sure you enjoy the journey because that is about 80 to 90% of your effort. So I was enjoying the journey," he told CBN News.
Faith also played a major role in Hernandez's life.
"A lot of people always argue with me and say, 'Isn't that a contradiction in life, science and religion?' and I say no. Quite the contrary. Science explains how things work. Religion explains why things happen. Not how things happen, but why they happen. And so it fills you spiritually as to why things happen. So, I think they go hand in hand," he told CBN News.
Many are now enjoying seeing his story on the big and small screens.
"It's kind of like I opened the door of my house to the public and they are all watching me now. I think it's good in the sense that I want people to see my story to understand where I came from that they get empowered to say that if he had it that bad and he was able to accomplish this, then why can't I accomplish my own goals," he said.
As a devoted father of five children, he is building a legacy they can model.
"My oldest four weeks ago, graduated from Purdue in Aerospace Engineering with a PhD. I asked him why Purdue. He said, 'Did you know that Purdue graduates the most Astronauts?' That's how he told me he wants to be an astronaut," he continued.
As Jose supports his son's space dreams, he's also back on the farm working alongside his dad in the vineyard their family owns.
"A Million Miles Away" is streaming now on the Amazon Prime platform.