Pulitzer Prize Winner Speaks at UWT

By: 
Joanna Sappenfield
Issue: 

In April, Pulitzer Prize winner for feature writing and author of Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario, spent a day at UWT, interacting with students and faculty and giving a lecture, all as part of the acclaimed UW Walker-Ames Lecture Series.

Enrique’s Journey is the story of one Honduran boy looking for his mother, after she left her starving family to find work in the United States.

“Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers,” according to enriquesjourney.com.

She echoed her discussion from her book of her three-month journey made on top of trains across South America to chronicle the story of Enrique, and how her experiences changed her view of unaccompanied, undocumented child migrants.

She says that this story is not just the tale of one boy but of “one million undocumented children living in the United States today.”

Students, faculty, and community members gathered in William Philip Hall, on April 29 to listen to Nazario with a Q&A discussion and book signing that followed.

Mallori Warren, a senior in Hispanic studies, attended the event.

“She was the one that really started the conversation about the issue and I found that incredibly brave,” Warren said. “I found her really inspiring.”

Warren spent six months in Spain where she “fell in love with the language.” Her passion for Hispanic studies has been solidified while at UWT.

“I learned Spanish as a way to be a voice for those who are voiceless,” Warren said. “I’ve read her book for three different classes here at UWT.”

Hispanic Studies Professor Vanessa de Veritch Woodside put in countless hours to facilitate bringing Nazario to campus.

She secured funding from the University of Washington Graduate School and Public Lectures program through the Walker-Ames Lectureship, as well as the Student Activity Board, Arts & Lectures, the Diversity Resource Center/Office for Equity and Diversity, Office of Undergraduate Education, and the School of IAS.

Nazario was the second Walker-Ames Lecturer to speak at UWT since the program began in 1936.

Woodside first came across Nazario’s work when she was attaining her Ph.D. Her dissertation was on how writers approaching issues on immigration and its impact on family differ from the discussion in media and politics.

In her proposal Woodside emphasized the importance of Nazario’s discussion to UWT’s campus in regards to transnational migration and family separation, and highlighting local organizations that are advocating to improve conditions in Mexico and Central America.

“Such a discussion will also shed light on volunteer or internship opportunities for UWT students as well as other ways that the public may effect positive change,” Woodside said.