Since its release, A Million Miles Away has sat in the top three most-watched films in the U.S.
MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central Valley native and NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez visited UC Merced on Monday.
It was all for the promotion of the movie A Million Miles Away.
The film tells Hernandez's life story growing up in the Central Valley with a farm-working family, all while dreaming of one day becoming an astronaut.
"Hearing his story, and everything he's gone through, it's really inspiring, so I'm like so excited to see it," said 4th year UC Merced student Luisa Rincon.
She is one of the hundreds who gathered at Lakireddy Auditorium to watch the movie.
Hernandez also made an appearance on campus for the special screening.
"If you look at the background of a lot of these students, you could argue that they have similar backgrounds that I grew up under," said Hernandez.
He said the movie aims to inspire the next generation of dreamers.
"I'm hoping empowerment process where the students see the type of socioeconomic background and empowers them to say if he did it, why can't I," said Hernandez.
UC Merced chancellor Juan Sanchez Munoz said he was grateful to have the astronaut in attendance for the movie screening.
"We actually had a date once before it didn't work with his calendar month, so we rescheduled and ordered out for both of us to be here today, and so it's something that was important to him," said Munoz.
Hernandez's tie to UC Merced runs deep. His son is currently studying engineering at the university.
The movie screening wasn't just for students.
Merced resident Ana Peterson says she came to the college to see the film on the big screen and to feel inspired, hopefully.
"For him to motivate himself to go to school, and for him to be where he wanted to be, and they keep going, and he did reach the goal that he wanted. And when started from the ground up, there's nothing more you can say about that," said Peterson.
The movie is already dubbed a success. Since its release, it's sat in the top three most-watched films in the U.S.