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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Sonia Nazario Give Donahue Lecture

October 5, 2011

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sonia Nazario, Lasell's 2011-12 Distinguished Donahue Scholar, spoke October 4th to a crowded de Witt Hall -- sharing with the community harrowing details of a Honduran boy's search for his immigrant mother in the U.S. -- the basis for her award-winning work.

The recipient of several national journalism and book awards, Nazario's book about that Honduran boy --Enrique's Journey -- has become required reading for many college students across the nation including Lasell. It highlights the difficult decisions immigrant mothers make to leave their children behind in order to earn money to help clothe and feed them, and the journeys made by their children later in life to reconnect with their parents.

"I've written about immigration for the past 20 years, but I didn't understand the desperation felt [by this group of people] until this journey," said Nazario.

She spoke about the challenges faced by "Enrique" and thousands of other Central American children who take a dangerous, life-threatening journey atop freight trains to reach the United States. Nazario reported Enrique's Journey by taking two such journeys herself and recalled the dangers, including bandits and gangsters, that she and the children faced every day of their journey.

In addition, she addressed the challenges mothers face in countries like Honduras, and how many, like Enrique's mother, painfully leave their children behind in hopes of giving them a better life.

Nazario's work on Enrique's Journey highlights the "fly-on-the-wall" reporting she has become known for, placing herself in her subjects' shoes.

A former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, she began her career at The Wall Street Journal, where she reported from four bureaus: New York, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Nazario grew up in Kansas and Argentina. Nazario is a graduate of Williams College and holds a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, Nazario received an honorary doctorate from Mount St. Mary's College.

Nazario has written extensively from Latin American and about Latinos in the United States, Nazario serves on the advisory boards of the University of North Texas Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Writer's Conference and Catch the Next, a non-profit working to double the number of Latinos enrolling in college. She also sits on the board of Kids In Need of Defense, a non-profit launched by Microsoft and actress Angelina Jolie to provide pro-bono attorneys to unaccompanied immigrant children.

She is now at work on her second book. More information on Enrique's Journey can be found on her website.


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