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From Farmworker to NASA: How José Hernández Overcame All Odds to Become an Astronaut

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Source: Jose Moreno Hernandez

José Moreno Hernández was the first first-generation Mexican American astronaut working for NASA. He is also an engineer, and he served as chief of the Materials and Processes branch of Johnson Space Center.

Hernández’s parents immigrated to California from Mexico when they were young, and they spent their lives setting up the lifestyle that Hernández grew up in. He was born in the US, and his brother and sister were born in Mexico. Hernández grew up bilingual and was an interpreter for his partners because they did not speak English.

Aside from Hernández’s past career as an astronaut, he has also held the positions of President and CEO of two consulting firms, Pt Strategies, LLC and Tierra Luna Engineering. He also started the José M. Hernández Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and educates students about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

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Hernández remembers watching the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 when he was 10 years old. When he saw Gene Cernan walk on the moon, he felt his own passion for space exploration grow. He knew that space was where his future was.

After his dream of becoming an astronaut was born, Hernández told his father about his desire to work for NASA. According to Hernández, even though his father only had a third-grade education, he used his wisdom to give Hernández advice that would strengthen his journey toward accomplishing his dream.

“He had the wisdom to do two key things that night. He empowered me into believing that I could do it and gave me five important terms of advice.”

These terms were:

  1. Decide what you want to be in life
  2. Recognize how far you are from your goal
  3. Draw yourself a road map from where you are to where you want to be
  4. Educate yourself
  5. Put effort into your work

“Always do more than what people ask for,” said Hernández.

One of the most effective things that Hernández learned during his application process to get into NASA was the importance of perseverance. After being denied 11 times, Hernández reevaluated his passion for going to space and realized that he needed to do more than just meet the qualifications.

Hernández took steps to improve his application by studying to be a pilot and earning a scuba diving license. He was selected as one of the hundred finalists, but he did not make it to the next selection round. He applied again and went through the same process three times before finally being accepted into NASA as an astronaut.

Going to space is very risky and has many challenges. Hernández learned many hard lessons while out in space.

“One of the things you learn a lot is the importance of working on a team. The importance of teamwork and having faith that your colleagues are going to do what they are supposed to be doing.” 

As mentioned earlier, Hernández also started the José Moreno Hernández Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and educates students about careers in STEM. The foundation was established in 2006.

Hernández wanted to excite kids and motivate them to strive for careers in STEM. He wanted to provide role models for kids to be exposed to year-round and offer them the opportunity to participate in a STEM academy. The foundation has many success stories and has changed the lives of many kids.

Hernández ran for Congress as a Democrat in California a few years ago. He was inspired to join the world of politics because he had practiced leadership from a young age. He saw this as another opportunity to lead people and utilize the power of teamwork that he had experienced during his time at NASA.

Trump has been vocal about anti-immigration and has sparked action against Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Hernández believes that immigration reform is very important in these times, and he strives to repair the immigration laws that the Trump administration has torn down since stepping into office.

One of Hernández’s many admirable features is that he has never let his circumstances define his dreams. He has faced multiple rejections from NASA, but he has never given up. According to Hernández, failure is a part of life. It is about learning the rules of the game and keeping your eyes on your goals.

“There is a negative connotation of losing. If you never attempt things, you will never fail, but you will also never achieve anything.”


Hernández is thankful for everyone in his life who has supported him through his many challenges and personally thanks his wife for her unconditional love for him.

He has written multiple books, all of which are available on his website, to share his story with others and motivate readers to reach for the stars, just as he did.

Credits:
Host & Producer: Cielo
Developer: Nick Murrin
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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MYVOS Talks

Meet The Impeccable Investor: A 20-Year-Old Student Who Is Revolutionizing The Way People Learn About the Stock Market

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Austin Bauley with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a light purple polo shirt, while standing in front of a brick wall.
Source: Austin Bouley

Austin Bouley has created a platform to uplift and support others seeking success in the world of investing known as The Impeccable Investor. His interest in trade and investing began when he was a high school student.  

Bouley was watching a documentary on Warren Buffet when he realized that he wanted to be as successful as Buffet was. He saw others achieving success in the trade business and believed that he could do the same. However, his first experience with the stock market was far from perfect.

“My parents gave me some of their savings to make my first trade and it went terribly.”

After losing 20% of his parents’ money, he was discouraged from investing in the stock market and returned the savings to his parents. However, he decided not to give up. He started saving his own money and spent all his time educating himself. Little by little, he figured it out and started making money.

After gaining traction in the stock market, Bauley wanted to teach people valuable content that was easy to understand so that others could be inspired to have the success that he has had. He started a YouTube channel, and after gaining several subscribers, created an Instagram account as well under the name of The Impeccable Investor

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Austin has shared amazing investing tips, educational videos, and current market reports, as well as some very funny memes on his platforms. The posts are informative and include easily accessible infographics that impart a lot of knowledge quite clearly. They are perfect for sharing with young investors who may not know as much about the stock market.

Bouley has made sure that his presence on social media ties in with the work he does by considering the average age and available capital of his primary audience.

He believes that he has strong leverage in regards to engaging his audience over a platform such as Instagram, but also offers free investing and swing trading courses on his own website, as well as advanced courses on the psychology of trading.

The free courses answer common questions such as: How does the stock market work? What are the market fundamentals? How do you interpret a stock chart? 

“Every trader and investor has a micro level and macro level. The micro level is what the person is feeling, their emotions. And the macro level is what the stock market is doing.”

The three main investing strategies Bauley goes by are:

  • Buy and hold
  • Dividend investing
  • Trend investing

The choices and decisions that each trader and investor makes are based on their micro and macro levels. Bouley urges readers to stop their fears from preventing them from trading certain stocks, just because they might seem risky.

The stock market functions on the basis of competition and some would categorize it as primarily a negative-sum game. The trick to the game is understanding the psychology behind the decisions that stock traders make. 

“When you think about psychology, you not only need to think about what is going on inside your head, but also what the market as a whole is thinking.”

The risk of losing money at certain points in trading is a part of the job. Bauley emphasized how important it is that each trader understands the risk of getting wiped out. The emotional aspect of trading can turn into a vicious cycle and needs to be dealt with throughout the process of trading. Whatever you put into your brokerage account, you need to be prepared to lose in case of a market crash. 

“My life goal and my dream job is to be a financial advisor. To help people, to motivate people, and to encourage and teach people. 

Many young people, especially college-age students, have turned towards small-scale investing using platforms like E*Trade and Robinhood in order to supplement their income. There is an increase in young traders getting involved in investing their money in stocks during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is when education on how to properly trade stocks has become really important, as it has the potential to benefit their lives. 

According to Bouley, the top three attributes needed to be a successful trader are: 

  • Controlling your emotions through self-awareness
  • Having a learner’s mindset 
  • Having a go-getter attitude 

Trading can become extremely stressful at times and there is a great deal of pressure on a trader’s back every time the stock market does not move in their favor. Bouley keeps himself grounded by staying consistent in his daily routines.

He begins each day with positive affirmations and journals to stay motivated and aware of his emotions, and sets boundaries for himself to make time for himself to decompress and not be obsessed with the market after closing time. 

“It’s not about me, it’s about the people I am helping.” 

Bouley is passionate about providing advice to his Instagram followers and takes the time to respond to each question he is asked on his social media accounts. He uses his own understanding of what others are struggling with when just starting out to help them advance towards their own success stories.

Host & Producer: Cielo
Developer: Nick Murrin
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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MYVOS Talks

Meet Ash-Lee Henderson-The Affrilachian Activist and Organizer Fighting for Racial Equality

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Ash Lee Henderson with big dark curly hair and glasses wearing a beige jacket, with a grey shirt and jewelry while standing in a building with long beige drapes and windows.

 

 

Source: Ash-Lee Henderson

Ash-Lee Henderson is the first Black woman to serve as the Executive Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee. She identifies as Affrilachian (Black Appalachian) and was born and raised in Southeast Tennessee, attending East Tennessee University. Henderson is an active participant in the Movement for Black Lives and a strong member of the Southern Freedom Movement and resistance of black liberation struggles in the U.S.

I grew up in a family that believed that part of our requirement for being on this earth is making sure that the other people in our neighborhood and in our communities are taken care of,” declared Henderson with pride.

Even when Henderson’s family had barely anything, they made sure to put others first, and they lived through Black liberation theology. The main idea of this theology is that people are born with the purpose to do good work for others. The Tennessee River Valley is where the Black struggle and liberation struggle have had a long legacy.

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“It’s a place where people have been struggling against Capitalism and White supremacy and homophobia and transphobia.”

Henderson’s life changed drastically when she visited a voter registration table at her school and noticed that they were not talking to Black students; instead, they were only talking to the White students.

This was when she realized that she needed to do something about the separation between students at her school. She contacted a man named Johnny Holloway, the Chair of the Rainbow Clutch Coalition, who told her stories about the civil rights movement.

“I was sitting at the feet of some of the greatest activists I’ve ever known.”

Holloway then gave Henderson an opportunity to get involved and take action. She was offered participation in the reenactment of the Freedom Ride of the sixties. He told her that if she organized the Chattanooga stop, she could have a seat on the bus.

Henderson enthusiastically agreed and organized the voter registration drive in Chattanooga. Over the month-long tour, Henderson got to meet inspirational people and developed a stronger passion for activism.

“It changed my life. It started a lifelong commitment in a self-chosen way. I found my calling and have been doing it ever since.” 

In May, Holloway got involved in the Mountain Justice organization, which is a grassroots movement that raises awareness of mountaintop removal mining and its effects on the environment and the peoples of Appalachia.

“It was the first time I had participated in an environmental direct action.”

Henderson reflected on the community that the Mountain Justice organization built and how each individual was fully committed to the mission of the movement. 

“Do I think it has been easy? No, but do I think it has been worth it? Absolutely.” 

The Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee is working on many different programs that make sure there is a physical space that people participating in social movements can go to for whatever they need. This could be for rest, security, conversation, or learning about the methodologies surrounding proper education and place-based organizing.

A few programs that are currently active include a youth fire safety program, a land liberation program, and a program working to build social solidarity economies through a curriculum facilitating a discussion about how the economy could be improved. Henderson is also supporting other organizations, making sure they have access to the resources they need to succeed.

Henderson listed the three main aspects of the organization. The first, transformative justice, is done by transforming communities through educating and supporting individuals in creating change in society. The second, movement accompaniment and support, is done with lifelong support for those doing radical work to transform their society. The third is incubating and innovating radical work.

By fiscally sponsoring organizations, the Highlander Research and Education Center has helped them sustain their work and win in their movement to change society for the better.

“The Movement for Black Lives has been committed to making possible today what was impossible yesterday.”

According to Henderson, what people can do to dismantle White supremacy and anti-Black racism includes everything from signing petitions to marching to spreading awareness, among other things. There is space for everyone to step up and participate in this movement.

Even though everything is online and social distancing has also taken precedence, conversations can still be held on social media. There are still protests in all 50 US states and 18 different countries. It’s just about keeping it up and breaking the boundaries that may get in the way.

“So much of the cultural expression of the U.S., so much of the infrastructure of the U.S., so much of the heart and soul that has built this country is actually a part of the Black tradition.”

Henderson brought attention to the connection between what makes America what it is and the Black experience. The promise of the U.S. is to embody a place where each person is able to work together equally. The role of members of society is to use activism to prevent the state from allowing injustice to occur. She spoke about the consistent failure of the criminal legal system to fix the social harms that have been deemed accountable.

“The call for abolition is one that not only is fiscally smart, is strategically and tactically smart, but is one that we know is possible.”

Henderson urges everyone to join an organization that focuses on what they want to change in the world. Committing to an organization can help support activism not only in your community, but in communities all over the world. Though cultures all over the world differ in many ways, standing up for what you believe in is a way to merge all those cultures together to form a united world.

“My goal is to love Black people, to love women, to love LGBTQ+ folks, to love working-class people with everything I’ve got, and every word and action that I take. That is actually the commitment of building a new world.” 

Through her faith and support from her friends and family, Henderson has and will continue to work and fight for the Movement for Black Lives and the Southern Freedom Movement. She is leading the resistance of Black liberation struggles in the US.

Credits:
Host & Producer: Cielo
Lead Producer: Alla Issa
Developer: Nick Murrin
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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MYVOS Talks

How Brett Hagler is Building Homes With 3D Printer to End Global Homelessness

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Brett Hagler with short grey hair wearing a grey sweater with the collar slightly opened smiling in front of the camera outside by the lake.
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Brett Hagler is the CEO and co-founder of New Story, one of the most innovative companies in the world. New Story is working on finding sustainable solutions to end global homelessness. The company pioneers community solutions and is passionate about social impact. It builds homes and communities for families all over the world that need shelter, which has positively impacted many people and has changed each of their lives for the better.

Hagler is a Y Combinator graduate and a cancer survivor. He has been recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, named one of the Top 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs, and his company was named among Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in the World” in 2017, 2019, and 2020.

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Y Combinator is a prestigious start-up accelerator that has provided financial support to companies such as Stripe, Airbnb, and Doordash. Hagler is a 2015 graduate of Y Combinator, where he learned how to raise funds for his company. New Story raised $27 million by December 2018. This gave the company the ability to get started with developing ways to complete its mission and activating its network.

“Life is a gift, not a gain,” said Hagler.

Hagler’s passion for helping others in need grew when he was in college. He realized that he had grown up with the wrong idea of what he wanted to accomplish in life. He began college living by the “three G’s,” which he described as “girls, gold, and glory.”

According to Hagler, it is important to have fun in college, but it is also about so much more than just worrying about popularity. Many students are pressured to strive for goals that they are not truly passionate about. It’s time to move away from those pressures and break out of the shell expectations can form. And this is exactly what Hagler did.

“Don’t do what everybody else does.” 

Hagler began exploring his Christian faith, and he had a realization that redirected what he felt ambitious about. It changed from personal ambitions centered around his personal status to outreach and community impact.

Hagler traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake destroyed many communities there. Hagler had created a for-profit start-up and was looking for a non-profit organization to give money to. He wanted to help families living without some of life’s most basic human needs, like shelter and safety.

After he came back to America from Haiti, he wanted to try to do something with his new mindset and perspective regarding his own life and the lives of others.

Life has not been easy for Hagler, but this has strengthened his sympathy for others who are also living with challenges. Surviving cancer when he was young taught him to appreciate and live life to its fullest.

He began to think in the long term because the short term didn’t give him the hope he needed. By doing so, he gained a vision and a desire to make a difference. These experiences were fundamental reasons why he wanted to start New Story.

“You need to really believe in what you are doing. It’s up to you to keep going.”

It’s hard to wrap your mind around how many people there are without homes. According to Hagler, anyone can help decrease the number by realizing their own privilege and educating themselves on different initiatives. This is the best time for you to have the courage to do something that you believe in.

“You are starting from the bottom, and that is the journey. It’s a step-by-step process, and each milestone is going to be hard. Start small.”

New Story has built about three thousand homes, and the team has learned a lot about how to improve the building process. Hagler wants to change how things have been done in the past.

Phase one was learning and making a direct impact. Phase two was trying to understand why it takes so long to build a house and why homes are so expensive. Phase three, the current phase, is establishing ways to lower the homeless population by building homes in an efficient way.

A man with a black hat with the letter 'N' on it, while pointing to his black ,'New Story' T shirt, while standing on the dirt, while two other men are looking at their phones on the deck.
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“We have earned the right to start testing new innovations. I love the challenges, and I love being on a team that will fight through the challenges together.”

New Story has been continuously working on building homes for some of the poorest people in the world and has even given them ownership of the land on which these homes are built, which is something essential that we often don’t see.

A 3D printer is now being used to print cement, which is then used to make the walls of homes. This machine has helped save money and allowed New Story to develop homes more efficiently.

“It is not just an idea, it is not just a proof of concept; they are actually building homes.”

Hagler is passionate about creating a team culture of innovation, speaking about leadership, helping other social entrepreneurs, and partnering with companies to give their team members the opportunity to make a direct life-changing impact through New Story. Hagler spoke in his own TED Talk in 2019, describing his involvement in New Story and the strides the company has made in changing the world.

When you have a small goal that is achievable, all excuses are off of the table because it is up to you to make it happen.”

A program that has recently developed through New Story is Founders Lab. Founders Lab is a one-month accelerator program that is working to help undergrads learn how to think and act like a founder. Having the mindset to challenge the status quo will serve students well in their future goals. Founders Lab will be completely digital and interactive beginning this October.

“We are learning to be more effective and more efficient and bringing in more resources to help us be more innovative. We are really passionate about ending global homelessness, and it is a long journey to come.”

With the goal of eradicating global homelessness, New Story strives to create a platform to elevate people by not only building them homes, but also by creating social change.

Credits:
Host & Producer: Cielo
Lead Producer: Alla Issa
Developer: Nick Murrin
Editor & Writer: Sydney Murphy

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