Ellen Ochoa was born in Los Angeles, CA and grew up in La Mesa, CA. Her Latino background is Mexican on her father's side. She received her Bachelors of Science in Physics at San Diego State University in 1980 and her Masters/Doctorate in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in 1985.
In 1991, Ellen became the 1st Hispanic woman to go into space. Her story is very inspiring because she was able to work hard to accomplish her goals. I was able to find an interview on the Scholastic website. You can find the full interview in the link below. Here are some standout questions:
Q: What are your Hispanic roots? Did you speak Spanish at home when you were growing up?
A: My Hispanic roots come from my father's side. His parents were Mexican, but my father was born in this country. He was one of 12 children. My father grew up speaking both Spanish and English but unfortunately he didn't speak Spanish with us at home. When I was growing up, my father believed as many people did at the time that there was a prejudice against people speaking their native language. It's really too bad, and I'm glad that things have changed in recent years.
Q: Does your being Hispanic American make you feel more pressure and more pride about your accomplishments? Do you have that in mind when you think of how well you've done in life?
A: I don't believe that being Hispanic American puts any additional pressure on me. I seem to put enough pressure on myself as it is. As for my accomplishments, being an astronaut has given me the opportunity to speak to children all over, including children with the same background as myself. I think that it's important for children to have a role model to see what they can grow up to be. It's important they know that if they work hard, they can be and accomplish whatever they want. I am proud to be an example of that.
Q: What do you look for in a potential astronaut, and what is their average age?
A: Most of the people who are selected are between the ages of 30 to 40. We look for a college education in science or technology. Mission Specialists usually have a Ph.D. or an M.D., but work experience can sometimes compensate for advanced degrees. We look for people who can do many things well, because people with multiple skills can usually learn things quickly. This is a very important quality for an astronaut, as is being well rounded. People with a background of skills or extra-curricular activities - such as music, sports or foreign languages - stand out as well.