The San Jose City College SACNAS Advancing Hispanic/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science welcomed students and staff for the first ever gathering at SJCC hosting this years Leadership Development through the Art of Networking hosted by the SACNAS Chapter. The regional meeting on Saturday August 23, 2014 will be an all day event that runs from 8:00 AM and ends at 7:30 PM.
President of San Jose City College, Byron D. Clift Breland attended the Opening Ceremony by welcoming students, colleagues, and staff to the event. Breland was appointed by the board of trustees in May of 2014 after having previously served as the Interim President for eleven months. “As a community college, we have an obligation to provide open access education to anybody who needs it or wants it,” Breland said. “Our position is to provide those with education and job training opportunities to community members whether they are documented or undocumented”. Breland said, “San Jose City College offers ESL classes to help people who need to learn English, who need to learn how to become conversational, employable, and need to acculturate (adopting cultural patterns) into society”.
The Opening Ceremony for the event on August 22, 2014 began at 6:00 PM with key note speaker Electrical Engineer and NASA Astronaut Dr. Jose M. Hernandez. Hernandez spoke to the crowd of more than 40 students, and SACNAS members about his experience on how he became a NASA Astronaut after applying each year for a total of 12-years before being accepted.
Hernandez grew up in California and Mexico. When he was young his family migrated back and forth from Mexico to the Salinas Valley as migrant field workers. His life began to change when his father told Jose and his three siblings after sitting in the car after working in the field picking strawberries. His father told them that they should remember that feeling of being tired, muddy, sweaty and stinky. Mr. Hernandez said, “You guys have the distinct privilege of living your future now”. He told the crowd, “What do you mean living our future now”. Hernandez explained how his father wanted a better life for his family and wanted them to remain in school to help change how he will succeed in life. Hernandez said, “I told myself, I like school”. Hernandez said, “That was the experience I had growing up”.
As a migrating farm working kid, Hernandez began to dream of becoming a NASA astronaut at the age of ten. Hernandez talked about sitting next to the television set holding rabbit ear antennae so that his family could watch the lunar landing during the Apollo mission in 1972. Hernandez explained that this was the first experience that changed how he saw himself in the future.
Hernandez said, “NASA rejected me not once, twice, not three times, NASA rejected me 11 times”. Hernandez explained, NASA had selected him after applying for the 12th time in 2004. After believing in his dream he began to realize that becoming an astronaut required having the right stuff. “There are three stages to reaching a goal,” Hernandez said. “The first stage is knowing the right preparation for the challenge”. The second stage Hernandez said was to acquire the right attributes of the people currently filling the role of where you want to go.
Networking with your peers in the field of your interest can help you get to where you want to go. Hernandez said, "The third stage of reaching a goal is to put yourself above everyone else that separates you from the crowd.” If you want to become a NASA engineer you should begin to network with the NASA community Hernandez explained. “Make yourself the complete package”.
This set the theme for the SACNAS Student Leadership Regional Meeting as goal setting and networking themes set the main stage for Math, Science, and Engineering curriculum for Hispanic/Chicanos & Native Americans.
For more information about the event go to SJCC SACNAS Chapter #SACNAS2014SRM, or go online for more information about the all day event at http://bio.sacnas.org/uploads/chapters/2014%20SRM%20Agenda.pdf.