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 Astronaut Shares His Story at STEM Event

"You make a huge difference in the lives of kids," former astronaut José Hernández told a room full of educators at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Hernandez was the keynote speaker at the STEM Champions event held on May 28 at the museum. Hernández shared his life journey from working as a migrant farm worker to becoming an astronaut.

Surrounded by aeronautical memorabilia and reminders of historic flights taken by those before him, Hernandez spoke of wanting to be an astronaut since he was 10 years old and being rejected by NASA 12 times before being accepted into the program. His message to kids is to never give up; perseverance is one of the keys to success.

The event celebrated the impact that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have had on students in out-of-school-time programs. It also engaged participants in learning about promising practices and increased capacity and sustainability of STEM programs through networking. Most importantly, the event is designed to generate enthusiasm for potential out-of-school-time programs that could increase student learning and interest in STEM.

Participants walked away with a collection of ready-to-go, student-approved STEM activities and lessons and enjoyed more than 20 STEM focused exhibits on the best ways to engage students.

More than 8,000 students in San Diego and Imperial counties are impacted by STEM learning in out-of-school-time programs. The statewide The Power of Discovery initiative seeks to increase student interest and engagement in STEM through afterschool programs.