Reyna Grande: Beyond the Distance

Submitted by Laurie Cozzolino, SDCE Flex Coordinator

SDCE was honored to host a very special event, ‘Reyna Grande: Beyond the Distance,’ on Nov. 6, 2017, held at the ECC Theatre.  Reyna, the author of the critically acclaimed book, ‘The Distance Between Us,’ spoke eloquently and movingly about her own difficult journey as an impoverished child immigrant and the challenges and struggles of growing up bi-cultural in the United States.  She spoke of how although she loved to read, too often she asked herself, “…where am I in these stories?”  As a young adult she attended Pasadena Community College, took writing classes, and gave credit to a mentor teacher who said bluntly, “You should be a writer!”  As she continued on in school at UC Santa Cruz, again she connected with a mentor teacher who also recognized her talent, and supported her dreams to be a writer.  And so, Reyna came to claim her own voice.  She spoke of writing as a place, “…where I could put my emotions” and where she found healing.  Today, she is an award-winning writer of several books, as well as a teacher, noted speaker and an advocate of immigrants everywhere. 

As part of her talk, Reyna graced the audience with an inspiring reading from her yet-to-be published book, ‘A Dream Called Home, ‘a sequel to ‘The Distance Between Us’ which will be out next Fall.   The new book is about her journey through college and beyond, as she learned to reclaim her past and celebrate where she came from and who she is now.  Reyna stayed long after the lecture to sign books, taking time to give hugs, speak to each and every person and graciously pose for many memorable photos. 

This event was attended by more than 150 people, and co-sponsored by SDCE Academic Senate and AFT Guild 1931 with support from SDCE President’s Office.  Special thanks go to Elva Salinas, City College faculty and AFT Professional Development Coordinator.  The audience included students, faculty, staff and administrators from SDCCD and the community.  Special guests included SDCCD Board of Trustees Member Maria Nieto Senour, SDCE Diversity Book Club and Cesar Chavez Center Student Book Club members, the ‘Salsa, Soul and the Spirit’ Professional Development Course participants, as well as students from other classes at ECC and other campuses. 

‘The Distance Between Us’ is the first book selection of the newly formed SDCE Diversity Book Club.  The lecture was recorded, and we will be posting it within a few weeks. Keep your eyes open for the announcement. For more info about Reyna, go to

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