February 16, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez spoke to thousands of Latino high school students who are gathering for the 2012 Student Leadership Series, organized by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.
As a child, Hernandez and his family toiled as migrant farm workers. He remembers clearly his father's words after a hard day of picking cucumbers.
"He said, how do you kids feel right now?" said Hernandez. "Of course, after a hard day's work, we answered, we're tired. He said, remember this feeling because you kids have the privilege of living your future now."
That meant going to school and getting an education. And Hernandez had a goal: to become an astronaut. He applied to the program several times.
"I didn't get accepted the first time, second time, third time," Hernandez told ABC7. "It took 12 years to get accepted, 12 years, so that's perseverance."
In 2009, Hernandez took flight onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
On Thursday, thousands of students attending the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute's series heard his story. It's a success story they hope to follow.