McALLEN – Young and old alike were left in awe during and after renowned author Sandra Cisneros' lectures, held at three of South Texas College's campuses to close out the college's Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture Series and celebration.
The month-long series was sponsored by STC's Center for Mexican American Studies and the Department of Library Services. Cisneros' appearances were also sponsored by the Education Leadership Series, led by STC Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management William Serrata.
"We're going to remember this one for quite a while. We could not have asked for a better way to close our third annual Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture Series.," said Center for Mexican American Studies Instructor and event coordinator Victor Gomez. "In fact, this one may be hard to top. Ms. Cisneros is a prolific writer and the reaction from our students and community put this event over the top.
"We received a lot of support not only from the community, but also internally from folks around campus like Library Specialist Esther Garcia, who has been instrumental in the formation of the Center for Mexican American Studies and in securing top-level speakers, as well as through the leadership of William Serrata, who made Ms. Cisneros' visit possible through the Education Leadership Series," he added.
Cisneros appeared before packed houses at the Mid-Valley Campus in Weslaco on Oct. 10 and followed up with lectures at the Starr County and Pecan campuses on Oct. 11, where she read excerpts from her upcoming book. Overflow rooms were set up at each campus where her lecture was video streamed.
"I never know who or how many people are coming. I'm delighted that so many came out to see me, and that so many were adults," said Cisneros. "I was so pleased to see so many women talking to me because sometimes they hold back."
Among the several hundred STC students were also parents and children, all of which have had a connection in some way with Cisneros since childhood, growing up reading her books such as, "The House on Mango Street."
"When my mother told me that Sandra Cisneros was going to be at STC, I said, ‘We have to go. The work she has done is very important,'" said Michelle Castillo, who is a college adviser at PSJA Memorial High School in Alamo. "A lot of my students come to STC and I'm very proud that STC has a Center for Mexican American Studies. I studied Mexican American Studies at UT in Austin and it helped me identify myself and my culture."
"We're honored to have her here," added Michelle's mother, Maria Castillo, who is a science lab assistant at the college's Mid-Valley Campus. "We can identify with her and she's very motivating as a woman."
As Cisneros' readers have grown up, so has she, as well as her work. The Latina author discussed how she has undergone changes in her life and made light of them in one of her poems about undergarments for women over 50.
Afterward, Cisneros fielded questions from students, parents and community members on various topics ranging from her life, writings, and the current political climate regarding Latinos in the U.S. At the conclusion of the lectures, she greeted each person individually, signed their books, and even motivated aspiring writers who asked for her advice.
"It's uplifting when I meet my readers," Cisneros concluded. "Being a writer can be lonely, but I'm very lucky that I get to meet my public and meet people whose lives have changed."