Former NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez to speak at UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series

  Wednesday, April 10, 2024
  Events and Exhibits, Science and Technology, Around Campus, Community

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY – APRIL 10, 2024 – Former NASA astronaut and real-life inspiration behind the movie sensation, “A Million Miles Away,” Jose Hernandez will launch UTRGV’s Spring 2024 Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) on Tuesday, April 16, in Edinburg.

The event is free and open to the university community and public at the UTRGV Performing Arts Center (EPAC). Priority admission will be given to UTRGV students with doors opening at 7 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the public.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jose Hernandez to the Distinguished Speaker Series," said Edna Zambrano, UTRGV Student Union director. "His remarkable story of achievement and leadership will undoubtedly resonate with our audience and inspire individuals of all backgrounds to reach for the stars."

From humble beginnings in a migrant farming family, Hernandez dared to dream big, setting his sights on the stars since high school. His journey took him from the fields to the cosmos, fueled by determination and a degree in electrical engineering.

Former NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez  to speak at UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series
(UTRGV Photo)

Hernandez excelled at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, contributing to advancements in medical imaging and nuclear non-proliferation efforts. But it was meeting his own inspiration during the astronaut application process that ignited his confidence, leading to his selection and inspiring the biopic, “A Million Miles Away,” recounting his extraordinary journey.

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The Distinguished Speaker Series is a signature program under the leadership of Student Activities, that aims to provide the university and surrounding community with world-class speakers and lecturers. The Series has brought in notable speakers such as former leader of Russia, the late Mikhail Gorbachev, Academy Award-Winning Actress & Activist, Marlee Matlin, Academy Award Winning Costume Designer, Ruth Carter, author and civil rights activist the late Dr. Maya Angelou, CNN News Anchor, Anderson Cooper, and Grammy/Oscar award-winning R&B artist John Legend. To learn more about the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series, visit  


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.