LOS ANGELES — As a young boy, José Hernández worked alongside his Mexican immigrant family, picking fruits and vegetables throughout the San Joaquin Valley and into Stockton.

When he watched as the first astronauts walked on the moon, he knew he wanted to be just like them — an astronaut.

Hernández told his father of his big dreams — and he immediately supported him.

“My father gave me a five ingredient recipe,” he said. “He told me if you’ve followed to the tee, I promise you, as your father, that you’ll reach a goal.”

In this episode, “LA Stories” host Giselle Fernandez revisits her conversation with Hernández.

He explains how he followed his father’s advice and worked tirelessly throughout high school and college in order to become an engineer.

He applied to the NASA space program, but didn’t get in.

He applied again, and again, he didn’t get in.

Rather than get discouraged, he worked harder and found ways to improve himself in order to stand out among the other applicants. It took him twelve times, but finally, his dream was set in motion: he was accepted, and got to fly into space at 47, as the engineer.

Of that moment, Hernández said, “To think a mere thirty years or so, I was picking fruits and vegetables. And, uh, I’m here today, representing the United States as a U.S. NASA astronaut.”

Today, Hernández wants to be sure all children, especially children of color, have the chance to achieve his or her dreams the way he did.

He’s started the Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which exposes children to STEM related opportunities. Hernández’s life has also come full circle — he now works again with his father, but this time, on a vineyard of his own, called Tierra Luna Cellars.

Most recently, a movie about his life’s journey has been released by Amazon Studios called “A Million Miles Away” starring Michael Peña, which is now streaming on Prime Video.

Even now, after all these years, Hernández still follows his father’s advice.

“Like my dad told me,” he said. “There’s no shortcuts. You gotta do the work.”

Watch “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez” at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.