Keynote speaker relates to, inspires students

By Jennifer Morales

At the Fall 2017 Keynote, Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us, spoke on her imperfect American dream when she came to the U.S. with the same vision at just eight years old.

“Everyone has the image that once the border is crossed it’s a happily ever after, but it is not,” Grande said.

“Once [we] reach the American dream we pay a price.”

Roughly 450 people attended the Common Read event where students, book club members, staff and faculty came together to discuss the book and interact with the author.

Entrance for the Common Read was free and guests had to register through Eventbrite in order to attend.

Dora Lee, the director of Academic Support and Learning Services, along with First Year Experience (FYE) committee staff, faculty and students organized the keynote Tuesday, Nov. 14.

During the Common Read, Grande spoke about her book and gave her insights on how it came about.

Grande explained that migration has become an act of survival when it should not.

Instead, people should want to migrate, not feel forced to.

She mentioned that she did not want to focus on her journey of crossing the border and instead took a different approach, by speaking about what caused her family to migrate and the aftermath of that.

Also, Grande talked about her transformation from her first day in the United States to her university graduation day.

She spoke about the dark times that unraveled with her family especially with her father when she first came to the U.S.

All the promises he made did not come true.

Her father chose the bottle instead of his children, causing her family to fall apart and forcing her to grow up quicker than she needed to.

“My family paid a big price,” Grande said.

When Grande spoke about the rough times once she lived in the states, those who attended felt a connection to Grande’s story.

“When my dad crossed the border, [he had] no help and had a close relationship with my grandfather, who was an alcoholic,” Pablo Herrarte, a third year finance student said.

“When my grandfather would pass out drunk, my dad would take care of him until he was conscious. This created a strong bond between them.”

Grande continued speaking about her accomplishments such as being the first in her family to graduate from a university with a degree and overcoming her embarrassment of being an immigrant and English learner.

She tied her accomplishments to how her children will have a better life than hers because they will not have to grow up being labeled as an immigrant or having to cross the border.

Grande treated the audience by reading an excerpt from her sequel and engaged in a Q&A where the audience asked her questions about the book, her inspiration to write and about her experience now when she visits her home country, Mexico.

“[When] she speaks to us it is not just words, it’s a heart to heart,” Sofia Carrillo, a fourth year finance student said.

Attendees also got to enjoy live music in front of the University Theater while enjoying delicious complementary food.

The audience got a chance meet Grande after the event as they got their book signed.

Grande’s sequel comes out Fall 2018.

Author and Keynote Speaker Reyna Grande encouraged students to follow their dreams

Jennifer Morales / The Poly Post

Author and Keynote Speaker Reyna Grande encouraged students to follow their dreams

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