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C of I to host ‘Reach for the Stars’ with astronaut Jose Hernandez

Latino schoolchildren in the Caldwell area will have the opportunity to meet a NASA astronaut and learn about the benefits of continued education on Aug. 7 as The College of Idaho hosts “Reach for the Stars,” a space-themed celebration featuring guest speaker Jose Hernandez. The free public event, set for 1 p.m. in Morrison Quadrangle at the heart of the College’s Caldwell campus, includes a free BBQ lunch for the first 200 guests, guided tours of campus— including the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History and the Whittenberger Planetarium – and family activities for children of all ages.

“Jose Hernandez is the kind of person we want our young Latinos to learn from,” said Arnold Hernandez, director of multicultural affairs at C of I. “Jose had a dream when he was out working in the fields, and what he’s accomplished is a shining example that education really is the way to reach the stars.”

Jose Hernandez worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for 10 years and was part of the 128th shuttle mission in 2009, when he traveled to the International Space Station and spent two weeks in space, including three spacewalks as part of the STS-128 crew. Hernandez earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from University of the Pacific and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara. He is a member of the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists and has received numerous honors and awards, including two NASA Service Awards and an honorary doctorate from University of the Pacific.

“Reach for the Stars” begins with lunch at 1 p.m., followed by Hernandez’s remarks at 2 p.m. Children’s activities begin at 2:30, with planetarium tours set for 2:30 and 3:30. The event is sponsored by The College of Idaho, Caldwell School District, White-Leasure Development, Reaching for the Stars Foundation, Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho and the City of Caldwell. While the event holds particular interest for the Latino community, guests of all ages and cultural backgrounds are invited to attend.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another ten Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit