'A Million Miles away': From farmworker to NASA astronaut

Jose Hernandez is known as the first former migrant worker to fly in space as an astronaut. Now he has a movie about his life which debuted at #1 on Amazon Prime last month.  

"It doesn’t matter where you start from, but it matters where you end up and that education and hard work and perseverance is the great equalizer in life," said Jose Hernandez, retired NASA Astronaut.     

Held at Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, "A Million Miles Away" was screened in front of hundreds of farmworkers, their families, and students from Alpha Public Schools. The movie is based on the real-life events of Stockton native, former farmworker and NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez. Hernandez says he was rejected 12 times before being accepted at NASA in 2004. 

"There were some people who believed in him and there were some people who didn’t believe in him. The people that didn’t believe in him, that motivated him to keep going," said Antonella Villalobos, an eighth-grader at Alpha Jose Hernandez School in San Jose. 

Hernandez has also written three books about his life and career journey, hoping to inspire the next generation, especially in the farmworker community.  

"It’s a noble profession, it’s a noble job, and we should respect them, and thank them for that because there’s nobody else who would do it if they weren’t around," Hernandez said.   

Sunday’s event was co-sponsored by Latinos at Amazon, and over two dozen Latino professionals who also used to be farmworkers were introduced. Amazon also donated $15,000 Farm Worker Caravan and Alpha Jose Hernandez School, which is named after the astronaut.

Carolina Rudisel is a former farmworker who now works for NASA and talked about some of the challenges she faced growing up.  

"Just being Mexican, being brown-skinned, I’m sorry that was hard. Especially in an area where it was predominantly either Hispanic or Caucasian where I grew up. It was hard, it was difficult I didn’t always feel comfortable in my own skin," Rudisel said.      

After the screening, Hernandez sat down to discuss the film and his life and said his message was clear.  

"Now I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m not saying it’s going to be as easy as your non-ethnic counterpart, but it’s possible," Hernandez said. 

If you'd like to learn more about Jose Hernandez and his extraordinary journey to become an astronaut, you can watch "A Million Miles Away" on Amazon Prime.