Latinx Heritage Month
Palabra: Juan Tejeda
Thursday, Sept. 15
Juan Tejeda is a musician, writer, "ex-jefe danzante" Mexica-Azteca, arts administrator, educator, activist, editor and publisher. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chicano Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Arts degree in Bicultural Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Juan Tejeda is a musician, writer, ex-jefe danzante Mexica-Azteca, arts administrator, educator, activist, editor and publisher. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chicano Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master of Arts degree in Bicultural Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
For eighteen years (1980-1998), he was the Xicano Music Program Director for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, where, among his many duties, he created the internationally renowned Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio and directed it during its first seventeen years. He created and edited the GCAC Newsletter and Tonantzin; directed the Performing Arts Series; produced the opera Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, composed by Dr. Edward C. Garza. Tejeda created and implemented music classes for the community (including classes in the button accordion, bajo sexto, voice, violin, guitar, Latin percussion, mariachi group, and others); and produced various live audio/video productions, including The Best of the Tejano Conjunto Festival (1989, 1997, and more recently, eight CDs from 2008-2015), and The Best of the 11th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, 1992 (video). He still works as a consultant for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the Tejano Conjunto Festival.
He has written and lectured extensively on the history and socio-cultural significance and importance of Tejano and Conjunto music and is the co-editor of the acclaimed book Puro Conjunto: An Album in Words and Pictures/Writings, Posters, and Photographs from the Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio, 1982-1998 (2001), published by the Center for Mexican American Studies/University of Texas at Austin and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and distributed by the University of Texas Press. He wrote the Preface and captions for John Dyer's historical book of photographs, Conjunto (2005/University of Texas Press). He is also the author of a book of poems, short stories, and songs entitled Enamorado, en la guerra, y reconociendo la tierra, Aztlan' 76-'78 (1980/M&A Editions, San Antonio, Texas).
Tejeda has taught Mexican American Studies (MAS) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (2000-2002). In December 2016, he retired as a tenured faculty member from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas. At PAC, he established, and was the lead faculty member of the Center for Mexican American Studies, was a professor of Mexican-American Studies and Music, and he created and directed the nation's first Conjunto Music Program at the college/university level.
For the last decade, he has been very active with Somos MAS/Mexican American Studies San Antonio, Tejas, and the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco in implementing MAS courses from Pre-K-12thgrade in Texas schools. During this time, he was part of a statewide coalition that fought for a MAS course for high school students before the Texas State Board of Education, culminating with its historic approval in September 2018. This was the first time in U.S. history that a state board of education approved a MAS course and the first time in Texas history that an Ethnic Studies course of any kind was approved. This decision by the state board also created a pathway for implementing other courses in Native American Studies, African American Studies, Latino Studies, and Asian/Pacific Islander Studies.
Juan Tejeda and his wife, Anisa Onofre, are the co-owners/publishers of Aztlan Libre Press, an independent publishing house based out of San Antonio, Texas, dedicated to the publication, promotion, and free expression of Native American/Xicanx literature and art. Aztlan Libre Press was established in 2010, and they have published fourteen books, among them: The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs by Amalia Ortiz, which won the 2020 American Book Award in Oral Literature from the Before Columbus Foundation; alurista's Tunaluna (2010); and A Crown for Gumecindo (2015) by former San Antonio and Texas Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero which won the 2016 Helen C. Smith Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. Their latest publication is Writing 50 Years (más o menos) Amongst the Gringos by award-winning journalist and academic Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodríguez.
Tejeda is the button accordionist and vocalist for the Conjunto Aztlan. They have released two CDs: their debut, self-titled, Conjunto Aztlan (1998), which is all music and poetry from the Chicano Movement; and From Aztlan With Love c/s a/f (2005), which includes 13 original love songs (7 of which were written by Tejeda). His third CD, first produced with his "primo hermano" Armando Tejeda, titled Raíz XicanX, was released in 2018. Raíz XicanX also includes many of Tejeda's original songs.
Tejeda was inducted into the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame in Alice, Texas, in 2016 and the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame in San Benito in 2017. He is the proud father of three children: Zitlalli Aztlan Libre, Juan Francisco Tonatiuh, and Maya Quetzalli.
Gallery100 Exhibit: Featuring Luminaria Artists
Thursday, Sept. 15 – Friday, Oct. 14
Join us for an opening reception of our Gallery100 Exhibit following our Latinx Heritage Month Opening Ceremony. To celebrate the cultures of south Texas, Luminaria, featuring artists – Mike “Comp” Arguello, Mauro Murillo, Ana Hernandez, and Itzel Vilches – has put together an exhibit that will run through Oct. 14.
Mike "Comp" Arguello
Mike "Comp" Arguello is a full-time artist from San Antonio, Texas, known for his incredible talent in photorealism. His ability to capture the most sentimental of human expression in his subjects has gained him many clients who commission him to paint portraits and other artworks deeply rooted in photorealistic techniques. In his teens and early 20s, he struggled with alcohol and chemical dependency and was in and out of rehab and treatment centers. Upon being diagnosed with bipolar depression, however, Comp understood his condition in enlightened ways, which sparked a positive change in his newfound life. As part of his mission, he now strives to serve as an example for those who may also struggle with chemical dependency and mental disorders as he maintains a very active career as a painter and muralist. Mike's commissioned canvas work and murals can be spotted all over the United States, from inside businesses and office walls to building exteriors and outdoor structures. This fuels not only his career but also drives him to lead with passion, strength, and creativity for himself and others well into the future.
Mauro Murillo was born in Coahuila, Mexico, and moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 1995. During high school, he enjoyed the SaySí art program, where he explored creating art in different mediums, including graphite, charcoal, aluminum, paper maché, papel picado, and others. While Murillo was pursuing an Associate degree in Communication Design at San Antonio College, he began to shift his focus more toward the fine arts. In a drawing class, he met an established local San Antonio artist that inspired and encouraged him to consider being an artist as a career. After graduating in early 2020, his passion for art strengthened as he started painting with acrylics on canvas. Murillo had his first solo show at Bear & Ink gallery in 2021. His work has also been shown in group exhibitions at UNAM San Antonio, Mexican Cultural Institute San Antonio, Not For You Gallery, and various venues in San Antonio and Houston, TX.
San Antonio-based artist, Ana Hernandez, was born and raised on the U.S./Mexico border. She holds a BFA with a concentration in painting and a minor in art history from The University of Texas-San Antonio. Her practice, which includes murals and sculpture as well as works on canvas, blends elements from the border with motifs from American popular culture and art history.
Itzel Vilches is a multimedia artist born in Laredo, Texas. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a concentration in printmaking. Being raised in Mexican and American border towns has led her work to focus on the fluidity and ripple effects of a multicultural identity.
Her printmaking practice ranges from relief to serigraphy and lithography. Bold line work and thematic color choice carry a narrative of personal struggle with identity. She also takes her printmaking technique into animation, combining the art forms to create captivating visuals and unique storytelling.
Itzel has also worked on several public murals throughout Laredo. She exhibited work in the 6th Annual Binacional Exhibit of Plastic Arts. Itzel aims to amplify border culture's experiences, and identity struggles to help others find a greater sense of belonging and make art accessible to her community.
National Voter Registration Day
Keynote Speaker: John Quiñones
Tuesday, Sept. 20
John Quiñones is the host of "What Would You Do?" one of the highest-rated newsmagazine franchises of recent years. During his 35-year tenure at ABC News, he has reported extensively for all programs and platforms and served as anchor of "Primetime."
John Quiñones is the host of "What Would You Do?" one of the highest-rated newsmagazine franchises of recent years. During his 35-year tenure at ABC News, he has reported extensively for all programs and platforms and served as anchor of "Primetime."
While Quiñones was covering the Chilean miners' disaster in 2010, he was the first journalist out of thousands to get an exclusive interview with the first survivor (Mario Sepulveda), who spoke about their horrendous ordeal. Other recent headline-making interviews include an exclusive with singer/actor Marc Anthony who, for the first time, spoke about his separation and pending divorce from Jennifer Lopez.
Quiñones has extensively covered a religious sect in Northern Arizona that forces its young female members to take part in polygamous marriages. Other reports include going undercover with a hidden camera to reveal how clinics performed unnecessary surgical procedures as part of a major nationwide insurance scam; he followed along with a group of would-be Mexican immigrants as they attempted to cross into the U.S. via the treacherous route known as "The Devil's Highway"; and he traveled to Israel for a CINE Award-winning report about suicide bombers.
In September 1999, Quiñones anchored a critically acclaimed ABC News special entitled "Latin Beat," focusing on the wave of Latin talent sweeping the U.S., the impact of the recent population explosion, and how it will affect the nation as a whole. He was awarded an ALMA Award from the National Council of La Raza. He also contributed reports to ABC News' unprecedented 24-hour, live, global Millennium broadcast, which won the George Foster Peabody Award.
Quiñones' reports for "20/20" have included an in-depth look at the unprecedented lawsuit against the Cuban government by a woman who claimed she unknowingly married a spy and an exclusive interview with a Florida teenager who brutally killed her adoptive mother. He was honored with a Gabriel Award for his poignant report that followed a young man to Colombia as he made an emotional journey to reunite with his birth mother after two decades. Other stories originating from Central America include political and economic turmoil in Argentina and civil war in El Salvador. During the 1980s, he spent nearly a decade in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama reporting for "World News Tonight."
Quiñones has won seven national Emmy Awards for his "Primetime Live," "Burning Questions," and "20/20" work. He was awarded an Emmy for his coverage of the Congo's virgin rainforest, which also won the Ark Trust Wildlife Award, and in 1990 he received an Emmy for "Window in the Past," a look at the Yanomamo Indians. He received a National Emmy Award for his work on the ABC documentary "Burning Questions—The Poisoning of America," which aired in September 1988 and was also honored with a World Hunger Media Award and a Citation from the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for "To Save the Children," his 1990 report on the homeless children of Bogota. Among his other prestigious awards are the First Prize in International Reporting and Robert F. Kennedy Prize for his piece on "Modern Slavery -- Children Sugar Cane Cutters in the Dominican Republic."
Quiñones joined ABC News in June 1982 as a general assignment correspondent based in Miami, providing reports for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" and other ABC News broadcasts. He was one of the few American journalists reporting from Panama City during the U.S. invasion in December 1989.
Prior to joining ABC News, he was a reporter with WBBM-TV in Chicago. He won two Emmy Awards for his 1980 reporting on the plight of illegal aliens from Mexico. From 1975 to 1978, he was a news editor at KTRH radio in Houston, Texas. During that period, he also was an anchor-reporter for KPRC-TV.
Quiñones received a bachelor of arts in speech communications from St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas. He received a master's from the Columbia School of Journalism. Quiñones has also received two honorary degrees: in 2016, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Utah Valley University, and in 2014 a Doctor of Letters degree from Davis & Elkins College.
Panel/Plática: Latinas in STEM
Tuesday, Sept. 27
Join us as we speak with professionals in various STEM fields about the academic, professional, and personal journeys they followed to get to where they are now. We are proud to present our 2022 Latinas in STEM Panel that will include:
Leticia Ozuna is a Principal Senior Engineer and Cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert supporting the United States Space Force. Her post-secondary education and degrees are from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M at College Station, and Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio. She was elected to the San Antonio Independent School District Board of Trustees in May of 2021. Ms. Ozuna served on the San Antonio City Council and the San Antonio Water System Board of Trustees. Ms. Ozuna is an outcome-oriented collaborator and always endeavors to serve her community.
Dr. Micaela Vargas
Dr. Micaela Vargas has over 15 years of experience in biomedical research, working on molecular mechanisms in cancer to developing molecular diagnostic tests. She has published her work in peer-reviewed journals and was granted numerous awards and fellowships for her work. She is a first-generation earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Texas State University and holds a master’s in Biology, and a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is the first POC to earn a Ph.D. from the program.
Dr. Vargas is a biotech and health care entrepreneur and founder of a biomedical consulting company. In addition, she is a faculty member in the Department of Biology at Texas State University and a Faculty Facilitator in the NSF I-Corps Site for Entrepreneurship.
Reavelyn Pray is a Research Associate for Natera. Natera is a medical diagnostics company involved in clinically relevant genetics testing such as carrier screening, prenatal screening, cancer detection, transplant liquid biopsies, and more. Reavelyn is also the programming co-chair of Women in Bio-TX chapter, a national organization focused on promoting career advancement at all career levels, from high school to executive level. Her work with WIB-TX involves organizing programming/events to foster community, build skillsets, and share knowledge.
Keynote Speaker: Julissa Arce
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Please join the Alamo Colleges District Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Palo Alto College for a “Latinx Heritage Month” keynote conversation with writer, activist, and social changemaker Julissa Arce. Author of My (Underground) American Dream and You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation, Julissa will discuss the lie that assimilation leads to belonging.
Julissa will comb through history and her own story to break down this assimilationist myth and offer a bold new promise: Belonging only comes through celebrating yourself, your history, your culture, and everything that makes you uniquely you. Only by turning away from assimilation can we truly make America beautiful. An America where difference is celebrated, heritage is shared and embraced, and belonging is for everyone. Through unearthing veiled history and reclaiming her own identity, Julissa shows us how to do this.
Julissa Arce is a best-selling author of My (Underground) American Dream (Entre Las Sombras del Sueño Americano) and Someone Like Me (Alguien Como Yo). She was named one of People en Español’s 25 Most Powerful Women of 2017 and 2019 Woman of the Year by the City of Los Angeles. She is a leading voice in the fights for social justice, immigrant rights and education equality.
Julissa is a contributor for TIME, Buzzfeed News, Crooked Media, CNBC, and one of the hosts of Crooked Conversations. Her book, "My Underground American Dream" is currently being developed as a television series with producer and actor America Ferrera.
Her commitment to education for all young people led her to co-create the Ascend Educational Fund (AEF) where she serves as chairwoman of the board. AEF is a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students in New York City, regardless of their ethnicity, national original or immigration status. Since its founding in 2012, AEF has awarded over $500,000 in college scholarships.
Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street working for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, and had seemingly achieved the American Dream—yet she was not part of what defined American.
Julissa immigrated to America from Mexico at the age of 11 and was undocumented for almost 15 years, some of them spent rising to prominence on Wall Street. She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status at Goldman Sachs while undocumented.
Julissa now uses her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration. A sought after speaker and political commentator, she gives talks at college campuses across the nation and events such as Tedx, the White House Latino Policy Summit, the Democratic National Convention, Politicon, and the Forbes Reinventing America Summit (alongside Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, and Gayle King).
She has appeared on Oprah’s Book Club, CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, NPR, Fox Business News, Telemundo, Bloomberg TV and Univision among other networks. Her writing has been published on TIME, The New York Times, Vogue, BuzzfeedCrooked, Media, Huffington Post, Fusion, CNN, CNN en Español, The Hill, and Univision. She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center.
She has received the Los Angeles Times Latinos de Hoy Emerging Leader Award, the NAHREP's Vanguard Award, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Inspira Award, among other recognitions.
In August of 2014, Julissa was officially sworn in as an American citizen. Her story has a joyful ending and she fights so more people can say the same. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats, Nikko and Pancho.
|National Poetry Day
Indigenous Peoples' Day/Día de la Raza
Panel/Plática: Discussion on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women MovementMonday, Oct. 10
Student Center Annex
In recent years, there has been national attention to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement (MMIW) in the media. National statistics show Indigenous women and girls are murdered ten times more than all ethnicities. This panel will discuss the MMIW movement and historical and current policies that affect the Native American community.
Ramon D. Vasquez
Ramon D. Vasquez is a tribal member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan (Qua-wheel-te-can) Nation, Auteca Paguame Clan. Son of a Mexican/Puerto Rican mother, Melissa Lopez, and a Coahuiltecan father, Ramon J. Vasquez, Ramon was raised in the inner-city southside of San Antonio, Texas. He started his work for the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AIT-SCM) through the organization's Rites of Passage Program, where he began facilitating classes for young boys and men of color, working through the struggles of the current education system and life within undervalued communities.
Ramon now operates AIT-SCM's Office of Community Engagement, overseeing three major initiatives for the organization, including Restorative Justice & Healing, Youth Leadership Development, and Civic Engagement. He has focused on working with youth and their families, local and national community organizers, educators across school institutions and/or the non-profit sector, institutional representatives across multiple sectors, and impact stakeholders locally, statewide, and nationally. With the lived experience of being closely connected to his root cultural practices, Ramon also works and designs culturally competent and transformative-oriented professional development strategies for the organization's program facilitators, staff, and partners.
Ramon is a cultural musician and educator continuing the organization's mission of protecting and preserving the culture and traditions of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation and other indigenous people of the Spanish Colonial Missions in South Texas and Northeast Mexico. It should be noted that Ramon and his family have committed to working with under-valued communities now for over 11 years. His purpose is to strengthen the family and community by providing information, education, and art for cultural and spiritual support, mental wellness, and social and emotional enlightenment.
Laura Rios-Ramirez, MSOL (She/Her(s)/They/Them)
Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez is a Mexican-born Xicana scholar-practitioner of Tepehuan, Guachichil Chichimeca, French and Spanish descent trained in educational pedagogy, circle keeping, performance art, and community organizing. Currently residing in occupied Somi Se'k Territory of Yanaguana (San Antonio, TX), she's recognized for her canon of healing-informed praxis intersecting performance art, ancestral knowledge systems, and restorative/transformative justice practices as tools for personal and collective transformation.
They hold a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Latin American Studies and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. Laura is a MAS Profesora at The University of Texas in San Antonio, a Southwest Folklife Fellow Alumni and Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellow Alumni focusing on Participatory Action Research and Intercultural Leadership. She co-leads Kalpulli Ayolopaktzin, a transnational inter-tribal group of families preserving Nahuatlaca teachings. She is a multi-disciplinary culture bearer, veteran Bgirl/Hip Hop dancer, wife, and most importantly, a "mami" passionate about healing intergenerational/colonial trauma through matriarchal leadership, cultural resilience, and folklife preservation.
Laura is a Co-Founder and Visionary behind De Corazón Circles and is serving as an Americorp Vista for Texas Tribal Buffalo Project.
Bio coming soon!
Palo Alto College Book Discussion
Book Title: ¡No Llore, Chingòn!
Tuesday, Oct. 11
11 a.m.–12 p.m.
Ozuna Legacy Room (room 101)
Join us for Palo Alto College's first book club during Latinx Heritage Month 2022. The book discussion will be open to students, faculty, staff, and community. Students can reserve their spot and a book copy online at AlamoEXPERIENCE. Faculty and staff can contact Cynthia Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Artist Panel/Plática: Little Joe and Emma Gonzalez
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Little Joe & La Familia is one of the most popular Tex-Mex bands in the music industry. Little Joe has celebrated over 60 years in entertainment and has been described as the "King of the Brown Sound." He helped to pioneer "Tejano" music, a mix of traditional "norteño" music and country, blues, and rock styles.
Jose Maria DeLeon Hernandez, or "Little Joe," was born to Salvador "La Cotorra" Hernandez and Amelia DeLeon Hernandez in a one-room dirt floor shack in Temple, Texas, on October 17, 1940. He was the seventh child of 13. In 1953, while working as a young migrant worker in the cotton fields of Texas, Joe's cousin, David Coronado, the front man for the band "David Coronado & The Latinaires," recruited Joe on guitar, Cino Moreno on drums, and Tony Matamoros on saxophone.
It wouldn't be until 1955 that Joe finally played his first "paying" performance in Cameron, Texas, for $5 at a high school, Sock Hop. He was so excited. It was then that he realized picking guitar strings beat picking cotton, and he could get paid for it.
Joe's recording debut as a guitarist for Terrero Records in Corpus Christi, Texas, came in 1958 on an instrumental single, "Safari Part I & II," composed by all members of the Latinaires.
Jesse Hernandez, Joe's younger brother, a bassist, singer, and songwriter, joined the band in 1959 as David Coronado was leaving. This allowed Joe to take over the band and rename it "Little Joe & The Latinaires."
Sadly in 1964, Jesse was killed in an automobile accident. Joe made a vow at Jesse's graveside to carry their music to the top, not realizing how high his music would take him, how it would open many doors for other artists, and how it would set many new musical trends.
In the late '60s, Joe continued to move forward in his musical quest. He signed with Texas-based independent record companies. His first record deal was with Corona Records in San Antonio, followed by Valmon Records in Austin and Zarape Records in Dallas. Joe decided to venture into his own independent company in 1968, "Buena Suerte Records" for his Spanish recordings and "Good Luck Records" for his English recordings. Also owned by Joe, Leona Records, a record label distributed by Freddy Records in Corpus Christi, allowed Joe to stay independent throughout the '70s and early '80s.
In 1970, after playing and spending much of his time in San Francisco and the Bay Area, Joe discovered "Latinismo," a strong Latin musical world not found in Texas at the time. It had a profound change in his music and cultural values prompting him to change the band's name from Latinaires to La Familia, emphasizing Joe's need for knowledge of his heritage and roots.
In 1983, Joe signed his first major label deal with WEA International. After a short stay with WEA, Joe again went independent and formed "Redneck Records," where he recorded the Live Double Album "25th Silver Anniversary" in 1985, later placed with CBS Records, subsequently becoming Sony Discos International. While with Sony Discos, he earned his first two Grammy nominations.
A publishing opportunity came to Joe in 1996 in which he would merge his company "DeLeon Publishing" with "Peer Music Limited Publishing" to bring a major publishing outlet for Texas Songwriters extending publishing works to 33 countries.
Over sixty years and many albums later, Joe continues touring the world, trailblazing, looking forward to new challenges, breaking down cultural and musical barriers, and innovating his musical style. As always, Joe strives to bring people together to make a more peaceful and harmonious world.
In the 1940s, north of San Manuel, Texas, there lived a family by the last name of González. The members consisted of Raul González, and Isabel Ornelas de González, the parents, and their ten children. It was a blended family from the start. Raul, a widower, had seven children, and Isabel, a widow, had three. In 1952, when fall's mythical autumn's golden lights beam in a ramshackle bunkhouse no bigger than a wooden shed, Emma was born, the only child born to this union. However, Emma would not grow up in the Rio Grande Valley. In April 1958, her family was recruited in Edinburg to work the sugar beet fields in Ovid, Colorado. She was just five years old.
For the next ten tumultuous years, she endured her family's way of life as migrants, gone for up to ten months each year, returning to Edinburg in late January, then leaving again in April. Fate brought her to Ovid, where she grew up amidst the families of the farmers they worked for, "a rich cornucopia of cultures," she refers to. While stuck in the migrant rut working out in the fields, day in and day out, twelve to fourteen hours in the sun, and left in the irrigation canals while her family thinned and weeded mile-long beet rows, Emma began to visualize a better life for herself. She treasured her dreams, symbolized in the fake pearl strands she wore, even in the ditches. "Hope" was the color of her iridescent "pearls."
She learned, "Your family doesn't provide a better life for you. You have to go out and make it yourself." This was the harsh reality of her own life. She fought for her right to obtain an education where ever she was taken and credits a Japanese farmer in Ovid who strongly suggested to her family she be enrolled in school, thus saving her from the migrant life. Her teachers in Ovid were instrumental in teaching her to read and write English early on. Reading became her passion, which brought the world into "her world."
In 2015, inspired by Saint Mother Teresa, she published her first book, Field Mice: Memoirs of a Migrant Child, and the Children's Edition of the same title.
In September 2017, she attended the International Latino Book Awards, also known as the Academy Awards of Latino Literature and Culture in Los Angeles, co-chaired by Edward James Olmos. Field Mice: "Memoirs of a Migrant Child" and the Children's Edition both won in the category of Most Inspirational Non-fiction. This was Emma's first submission as an author. Latino authors from the U.S. and 20 Latino countries were represented. Her works have been published in The Monitor's Festiva Creative Writing and RiverSedge: A Journal of Art & Literature, published by UTRGV. She is the 2017 "Literacy Champion" recipient, an award from the South Texas Literacy Coalition for her work conducting writing workshops for high school migrant students.
Her sequel, "Paths of Pearls: After the Migrant Years," is due for publication this year. Emma writes about her life when her parents finally settled in Edinburg, Texas. Her struggles continued at the age of 15, after the migrant years had decimated her family and her father passed away. She is forced to support herself and her mother at a young age. This new lifestyle is so unsettling for her. She draws strength from her past to survive.
Eventually, Emma's hard work and perseverance paid off. Emma graduated from Edinburg High in 1972, attended The University of Texas-Pan American (now UT RGV), majoring in Criminal Justice, and ventured into successful business entrepreneurship. Emma married Arnulfo González, her longtime friend and fellow graduate, and has resided in Edinburg for over 40 years. They have two children and four grandchildren. Her greatest love is her family. After 50 years, she reconnected with the migrant era and her friends in Ovid, Colorado, and made peace with her past.
Today, Emma shares her life's story with migrant students to motivate them to stay in school and to "reach for the stars." She conducts writing workshops to help students "find their voice and write their story."
Now, she travels with her husband to the distant places she once only read about as an isolated migrant child.
Palo Alto College Ozuna Library celebrates Latinx Heritage Month
Exhibit: "Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States"
Sept. 15-Oct. 13
Nuestra Gente: A Tribute to Hispanic Innovators and Dreamers
Tuesday, Oct. 18
Nuestra Gente: A Tribute to Hispanic Innovators and Dreamers and Brava: A Celebration of Women exhibits have been hosted by libraries, colleges, and universities, primary and secondary schools, youth organizations, corporations and featured in various publications.
While reading about the life story of Frida Kahlo, Bernadette Peña's granddaughter began to identify similarities between herself and the artist. She related to Frida's eyebrows, her love for painting, and their shared experience living with a disability. Inspired by this moment, Peña dressed her granddaughter as Frida and watched as she beamed with confidence.
Peña founded Miella Media after finding minimal representation of diverse voices in children's literature. Miella Media applies a multicultural and multigenerational approach to visual storytelling, cultivating cultural identity and literacy through authentic narratives. Peña is committed to collaborating with civic organizations focused on equitable programming for underserved communities, individuals living with disabilities, and youth leadership development. Peña's work centers on amplifying voices, encouraging all to celebrate diversity and embrace the story within.
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
For information, please contact us.
Phone: (210) 486-3044
A special thanks to: Center for Mexican American Studies, Student Life, PAC Working Writers Series, PAC STEM Center, and Student Activities Fee.
Thank you to our sponsor: