Writing and Inspiring
Monica Brown is telling stories. Lots of them.
As a professor of U.S. multiethnic literature and women's
studies, her published works include Delinquent Citizens: Nation
and Identity in Chicano/a and Puerto Rican Gang Narratives, a scholarly
examination, and Chavela and the Magic Bubble, a children’s book. Both reflect Brown's lifelong advocacy of
cultural studies and bilingual education.
Her first bilingual book for children, My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz,
published in 2004, was awarded the Américas Award for Children's and Young
Adult Literature. The story is a first-person narrative of the Cuban-born salsa
singer, and the award was given to recognize Brown's authentic and engaging
portrayal of Cruz’s contribution to U.S. and Latin American culture.
Since then, Brown has published more award-winning
children's books. Pablo Neruda: The Poet of the
won two awards in 2012: the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult
Literature and the Orbus Pictus Honor Book award. Brown also won a 2012
Christopher Award for Waiting for the Biblioburro. She has
been a featured author at the Kennedy Center Multicultural Book
Festival, The Texas Book Festival, and the International Book Fair in Panama.
She is also the recipient of the Rockefeller Fellowship on Chicano Cultural
Literacies, a prestigious honor from the Center for Chicano Studies at the
University of California-Santa Barbara.
In the classroom
Brown applies her talents and perspectives to benefit
students at Northern Arizona University. As former co-chair of the Northern
Arizona University Commission on Ethnic Diversity, she helped spearhead the
proposal that resulted in the university’s global and U.S. ethnic diversity
requirements. And, drawing from her own success pursuing a second career in
literature, she lends a hand to students interested in multiple career paths
and has led creative writing workshops with other authors.
"I work with many students who are education
majors," Brown says. "While we don't use my texts in class, my understanding
of children's literature and children's publishing specifically, and U.S.
Latino/a literature and cultural history always informs my teaching."
A literature professor at UC Santa Barbara first
recognized Brown’s talent as a writer over 20 years ago, and urged her to go to
graduate school. Brown makes it a priority to inspire that same drive in her
"I want to make sure that students realize their
potential if it is there," Brown says. "If I think that they are not
working to that potential, I will be the first to tell them that, too."
Brown believes strongly in her responsibility as a mentor
to students and strives to serve as an example, especially to those who haven't
found encouragement elsewhere.
"Clearly I get to serve as a role model for ethnic
minority students on campus," she says. "Sometimes I am the first
Latino with a PhD that they have ever met—I see it as my job to encourage and
inspire the way that I was encouraged and inspired."