Students Collaborate On Award-Winning Book

A book featuring autobiographical vignettes by 29 Latino SUNY Oneonta students and recent alumni won two awards at the Latino Literacy Now's International Latino Book Awards.

Titled “Mi vida en los Estados Unidos, jóvenes hispanohablantes cuentan sus experiencias” (My Life in the United States, Young Hispanic Heritage Language Speakers Write About Their Experiences”), the book is a collection of common experiences growing up with two languages and two cultures, and similar life struggles.

María Cristina Montoya, assistant professor of Foreign Languages & Literature, edited the book, which won first place in the Most Inspirational Nonfiction category and second place for Best Autobiography. According to Montoya, this is the largest U.S. award celebrating achievements in Latino literature.

The student writings came out of Montoya’s “Spanish for Bilinguals” course for native Spanish speakers. “The development of a step-by-step writing process motivated these students to write fluently while turning an oral, private language into a written, public one,” she said. “This methodology promotes creativity, discussions about dual identity, future goals, and responsibilities as a growing minority in the U.S. Students also learn syntactic rules, orthography and stylistics.”

The awards were presented in September during a ceremony at California State University in Los Angeles. Three students and one alumna accompanied Montoya to the awards ceremony. The students received funding from the D’Antonio Undergraduate Student Travel for Excellence Fund and the Student Travel for Excellence Program in order to attend the ceremony and a book panel at The Latino Book and Family Festival.