Today@Sam Article

'Enrique's Journey' Contest Winners Recognized

Dec. 2, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Enrique's Journey winners

The Sam Houston State University Common Reader Program wrapped up another fall of programming related to this year's selection "Enrique's Journey" with a luncheon that recognized the recipients of its six contests that awarded students more than $3,000 in scholarships.

Contest winners also had the opportunity to meet the book's author Sonia Nazario (far left, in pink) and Enrique's mother Lourdes Pineda (far right, in red). They included (above, from left, by Nazario) Raynie Leard, research poster winner; Claudia Pasantes, English department essay contest winner; (back row, from left) Ross Owen, classroom design competition; Nyasha Alexander, freshman essay contest winner; Haden Henderson, second place art contest winner; and Autumn Dowdy, first place art contest winner.  

 To see or read their winning submissions, see below, or click on their names above.

Freshman Essay Contest

The "Freshman Essay Contest," sponsored by the New Student Orientation program, asked students to share how learning about the migrant's values in the book affected their own attitudes, using specific examples from the book to support an interpretation.  The winner, Nyasha Alexander, a freshman business management major who wrote about "A Physical Journey Through Emotions, received a $500 scholarship. Her submission will be featured on the SHSU home page in the spring in conjunction with a second series of "Enrique's Journey"-related events planned by the First Year Experience Office.

Fine Arts Contest & Juried Art Show

The Lowman Student Center Art Gallery provided $500 worth of scholarships to three students who created art based on the themes presented in the book.

Autumn's artwork

"Finding Promise"

Best in Show winner ($250)

Autumn Dowdy 

Classification: Senior

Major: Photography

Hometown: New Caney

student art work a square dining table with two chairs placed on opposite sides, one place setting, and a blue persian style rug underneath the table and chairs

Haden Henderson

2nd Place winner ($150) 

Classification: Senior

Major: Studio Art

Hometown: Houston

Cairus's artwork

Cairus Larsen

Honorable Mention winner ($100)

Classification: Junior

Major: Studio Art

Hometown: Trinity


Classroom Design Competition

The College of Education sponsored $1,000 worth of scholarships to students who were able to analyze the needs of the children in "Enrique's Journey" and design a classroom that met those needs.

$750 scholarship winner: Ross Owen, senior music education major
"Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Classroom Design"

From Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey, I’ve chosen to analyze Enrique, Maria Isabel and their daughter Jasmin. This analysis will be the basis for designing an elementary classroom to best suit their needs so that they can learn on a self-actualized level.

Enrique’s needs haven’t been met throughout the story on many levels. While in the toughest moments on the train Enrique didn’t have his physiological, safety, love/belonging, or esteem needs met and had no hope of reaching self-actualization. These levels of Maslow’s hierarchy were interrupted by gang attacks, lack of money, lack of food, and the unwillingness of people from other countries to accept migrants.

 Maria Isabel is in Honduras raising her and Enrique’s young daughter Jasmin. She misses Enrique greatly but the money he sends from his work in the United States is helpful before he begins to spend it on drugs. She receives a lot of disapproval from relatives who accuse her of squandering the money that Enrique sends to her rather than helping Jasmin. While has her physiological needs met part of the time, her safety, belongingness, and esteem levels all suffer preventing her from reaching self-actualization.

Jasmin gets the benefit of monetary support from her father early on and the loving care of her mother. While under her mothers care she gets her physiological, safety, belongingness, and esteem taken care of very well. Unfortunately for Jasmin, her mother will leave her and the cycle of parent leaving child continues. Putting this kind of strain on their relationship will breed resentment of her mother and she also only knows her father as a voice on the telephone, leaving her feeling physically abandoned. These trials she will face will cause her safety, belongingness, and esteem tiers to be unmet preventing her from reaching self-actualization.

The classroom I would construct for these children would be about 50 feet by 30 feet. I would have the walls painted a sky-like blue color to promote calmness, and a feeling of security among the students.

In order to address the physiological needs of my students I would make sure that the room temperature was set on the cooler side to keep the students alert. There will also be a sink inside the room along the wall for hand washing and drinking if needed. For food, I would allow the students to have a snack time in the classroom where in addition to their lunchtime, the students get a nutritional snack provided for them by the school. There would ideally be 2 private bathrooms in the classroom, one for boys and one for girls. These bathrooms would be accessible from 2 separate doors just nearby where the teacher would sit. With this set up, students like Enrique and Jasmin could get their physiologic needs met in the classroom.

To address safety needs of the student’s, there will always be a well-structured lesson plan provided. Rules will be very clear and there will be light incentives provided to reward those who effectively follow the rules and participate. Enrique didn’t have many authority figures in his life for very long. Jasmin experiences similar problems when Maria Isabel leaves for the United States. Having this structure will make the kids feel secure and provide rules for children like Enrique and Jasmin.

Belongingness comes largely from the teacher. It’s important to get to know your students and always be ready to listen. In order to help students form more unionized learning, I would use collaborative tables with 4-6 students at a table to force them to work together on projects, become accepting of one another and even learn to share ideas. There would also be another table in the center of he room where the students would share their results as a group with the rest of the class. Belongingness applies to Enrique, Maria Isabel and Jasmin. Enrique could benefit in having a good teacher to talk to and who would show interest in him and the struggles he faced. Maria Isabel would gain positive experience in working in groups with students who would have to be accepting of her to get projects done. Maria Isabel’s family would alienate her in the book and call her a bad mother. This group format would help her feel like she belonged again. Jasmin would need the support of the group and the teacher, as she would feel abandoned as Enrique did.

To address the students Esteem, my classroom would be a supportive environment. Focusing on strengths of the students would be a key factor in raising their self-confidence. The teacher also would need to be alert to the student’s difficulties but making sure they know they carry worth in their strengths and should take pride in that. Enrique and Jasmin are chiefly in need of Esteem both being kids feeling abandoned by their parents for a time. Maria Isabel would benefit from knowing her strengths and getting to explore them more as she has been called a bad mother on several occasions undoubtedly shaking her confidence.

When the students would reach self-actualization, I would give them room to explore and really expect more from them. I feel project based learning would be most effective in the group setting that I’ve designed for the kids. Having them work through real possible problems will help them get to know and accept each other. This would create the best learning environment for Enrique, Maria Isabel and Jasmin so that they can reach their full potential as effective self-actualized people.

$250 scholarship winner: Cassandra Lemieux, senior English major
"Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Classroom Design"

Sonia Nazario’s book, Enrique’s Journey, follows the story of seventeen-year-old Enrique as he travels from his home in Honduras to the United States in search of his mother, leaving his girlfriend, daughter, and other family members behind. Between the years 2000 and 2004 about 700,000 illegal immigrants arrive each year (Nazario, 2006, pp. 300). Many of those immigrants are parents trying to find work to send money back to their poor families in Mexico and South America. Nazario (2006) states that Enrique is one of “an estimated 48,000 children who enter the United States from Central America and Mexico each year, illegally and without either of their parents” (5). 75 percent of those children are looking for their mothers (Nazario, 2006, pp.5). Enrique endures trials and tribulations that not only threaten to hinder his search but threaten his life.

Entering South American countries illegally is extremely dangerous, especially for children. Mobsters and corrupt cops take advantage of these children by stealing what little money that have and threatening them if they do not give them what they want. Enrique faces near starvation and dehydration throughout his journey. He travels on top of dangerous trains that many children are flung off of or lose limbs when they try to jump on. Enrique, at one point, is beat up and still has scars from it today. He never has a safe place to sleep during his journey and he is unable to form friendships due to the dangerous trip and con artists along the way. When Enrique does eventually make it to the United States he becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol like he once was in Honduras. He also develops a tense relationship with his mother even though they are reunited, resulting in Enrique’s low self-esteem. Enrique, his girlfriend Maria Isabel, and their daughter Jasmin all have needs not being met on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Throughout Enrique’s journey, he rarely meets his physiological needs. He does not have a safe shelter and barely has any time to properly sleep. He nearly starves at some points and more than once had to drink from dirty puddles just to prevent total dehydration. Throughout his journey, Enrique never has a total sense of safety and security. He rarely gets to keep the money he has on the journey, gets beat up, and is tempted by drugs. The only time he comes close to this is when he meets El Tirindaro near the Rio Grande. El Tirindaro protects Enrique from robbers/gangsters along the river. He even once gave Enrique a meal card for food. While Enrique’s girlfriend Maria Isabel fulfills part of his social needs, she, and their not yet born daughter, never fill the piece of him that is missing his mother. Enrique is constantly questioning his self-esteem and confidence. When his mother left he would question whether or not she still loved him. On the journey, his confidence would drop on whether he would be able to make it to the United States. When Maria Isabel was hesitant to join him in America, his self-esteem would drop, questioning if he was worth it. Enrique has problem solving skills, even if they lead to not the best decisions at times. Every obstacle he faced on his journey from Honduras to the United Stated, he found a way around it. He once lost his mother’s phone number and had no other way to contact her. So he worked odd jobs to save enough money up to call Honduras to ask for her number in the States. He then memorized her number. However, he would deal with stress and low self-esteem by submitting to drugs and alcohol. Enrique has so much potential to grow his creativity.

Maria Isabel, girlfriend of Enrique, was left behind, pregnant, when Enrique made his journey up north. She was living with family members, but rarely had enough to eat. She was pregnant and had no sense of security. She was surrounded by family, but was constantly criticized by Enrique’s family. She eventually had her daughter, Jasmin, but she really missed Enrique. When Enrique’s calls to her became less frequent, her self-esteem dropped thinking he no longer loved her. Marias Isabel essentially was a single teen mom and had no time for creativity or spontaneity. Even her trip to join Enrique was not based on a whim. She carefully thought about her decision and her responsibility for Jasmin. Instead of making the same journey as Enrique, she paid for a smuggler to sneak her across the border. Her daughter would follow later.

Jasmin, Enrique and Maria Isabel’s daughter, lacks the same physiological needs as her mother since she has spent her entire life with her. She does have a home to sleep in, but she does not necessarily have enough food and clean water. Her safety and security is constantly threatened. When she was snuck across the border, she was in the care of a trusted smuggler. However, that smuggler was not family and anything could have gone wrong that could potentially endanger her life. When she finally made it to the United Stated, her family lived in an apartment complex that was known for gang disturbances. She rarely got to play outside due to the constant violence and threats. At nine years old, Jasmin is at the telephone store where her Aunt Diana works. A robber comes in and holds them both at gunpoint. Additionally, until she and her family receives U Visas from the government for testifying against the robber, she lives in constant fear that she will be separated from her family and deported back to Honduras. Jasmin grew up in Honduras around her mother, her mother’s family, and Enrique’s family (excluding his mother). However, she did not know her father for many years. She was so confused about the situation that she believed one of her uncles was her father and referred to him as such. When she first met Enrique she was timid around him. Enrique later gets put in jail for many months. She only gets to see him on Sundays through video; she never consistently has a father around her. While the book never outright states it, Jasmin’s self-esteem and confidence does not seem to falter. She has parents that love her and support her. When Enrique is not around she is too young too fully understand what is happening. Jasmin’s creativity as a child is stunted at first due to not be able to play outside in dangerous neighborhoods and living in constant fear of being deported. However, as she grew older she was able to take a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a school safety officers convention.

Children like Enrique, Maria Isabel, and Jasmin will all appear in school across the country. Nazario (2006) states that “today, one in four children in the nation’s school is an immigrant or the child of an immigrant-up from 6 percent in 1970. By 2020, these children will constitute 30 percent of the nation’s school population” (273). Schools and classrooms need to adapt to accommodate students like these. My high school classroom design is aimed to reach every level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The physiological needs, such as food and water, will be provided in the classroom. My room will have a snack station that has a variety of healthy snacks and water bottles. While this can get expensive for a teacher, I am hoping this can be achieved by donations from the community. This will benefit every student in the classroom. It is harder to focus on work when one is hungry, especially if a child is not getting enough to eat at home. Now the school cannot provide a place for students to sleep, but I can allow a break time in the classroom. The children can use this time to take a little nap or simply relax. One of Enrique’s needs that are never consistently met is his safety and security. So, for students like Enrique, they will be assigned a personal locker where they can keep treasured trinkets and money. However, lockers will be occasionally searched to prevent drug use. For students like Maria Isabel, I will offer an after school self-defense class; her safety is continually threatened, especially as a female.  As Jasmin gets older and enrolls in high school, she will be offered counseling to talk about her experiences, especially since she had to testify against a man who held her a gunpoint. Most students do have family and friends, but sometimes those relationships are tense or even dangerous. So I will aim to create an in school family. Children in the classroom will be grouped together to work on projects, homework, and in class assignments. Essentially, they will create their own little academic sororities/fraternities with their classmates they can count on to be their sisters and brothers. Maria Isabel struggled to make the decision to leave Jasmin behind to join Enrique. It can be assumed that she would struggle to make the decision to finish high school and leave her daughter at home or even afford a babysitter. So the school will offer a daycare program for high school students with children. During the aforementioned breaks, Maria Isabel can visit her daughter at the in-school daycare. To raise the children’s self-esteem, confidence, and sense of achievement, I will constantly motivate them and let them know that they are worth it. I will have speakers come in that have gone through similar experiences as them and have grown up to become successful. To help students reach self-actualization, they will write. I will encourage them to do so even if they struggle with English; it will help them improve. For students like Enrique, they will keep a journal. Enrique has such a compelling story that it would be a shame if he did not write it down in his own words and described his feelings. For students like Jasmin, they can write letters. She can write letters to her family members back in Honduras, describing her life in America, or, if this ever happens again, she could write letters to her father in prison. They will also keep a list of weekly and monthly goals, simple or complex. After each goal is met, they get to add a gold star under their name on a poster board in class.

Teachers all across Americas will encounter students like Enrique and his family. They have gone through hardships and life threatening situations just to keep their families together. Everyone deserves to be educated and feel safe in a caring environment. It is the job of teachers to help these students as best they can when they are in their care. It does not take much to show compassion and motivate students.

Honorable Mention: Raigan Champagne, junior interdisciplinary studies major

English Department Essay Contest

The $250 scholarship was sponsored by the English Department and asked students to take readers on a literal and metaphorical journey.

Winner: Claudia Pasantes, junior criminal justice major
"The Journey to a Home Away From Home"

If I could use just one word to define my journey up to this moment, it would be determination. I never asked to leave the land that birthed me to go to a country that was totally foreign to me; this was a decision that my parents made, which I understand and appreciate now, because they wanted me to have the opportunities that they missed out on and to have a better life than the one my home country could offer me. They simply wanted me to seek a higher level of education that would open many doors for me in terms of success and self-sufficiency.

I was born in a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City, Mexico. I lived the first three years of my life in this town, having to walk three miles with my grandmother just to get to my school. I was put in a daycare that also served as a school for kids under 4 years old. I never understood why my mother had to “abandon” me, as I called it, for 9 hours a day, or sometimes days at a time. I didn’t understand that she was just trying to make ends meet and give me a better life. My father worked an hour away from our small apartment so I only saw him for dinner if he was able to make it home in time. My father eventually left to Texas because he had the job offer of his dreams and I stayed behind in Mexico with my mother. She tried her absolute hardest to get her company to allow her to relocate to the same city in Texas that my father was in so that our family could be together and not suffer. Again, I did not understand why my family did not live in the same apartment or why my mother and I had to travel for hours just to see my father for 2 days. My mother would have to literally rip me out of my father’s arms because I never wanted to leave. I always asked why I couldn’t just stay with him for five more minutes. Finally, my mother decided that our family had to be together and I needed to be with both of my parents because the happy child in me left when my father went to Texas. The day that my mother’s friends from work threw a “going away party” I did not understand why they cried so much as they hugged us and told me that I was such a precious child. I thought, “They shouldn’t cry so much, won’t we see them tomorrow...?” Later that night, my mother picked out my favorite toys and my stuffed bear that a family friend gave to me the day I was born and she put them in a suitcase along with some photo albums and some of her favorite books; a second suitcase held our clothes. Her best friends from elementary school helped her put the suitcases in the bus that took us on a two-hour trip to the airport. It must have been such a bittersweet moment for my mother, seeing as she just left her entire life behind and was embarking on a long journey with her 3-year-old daughter.

We arrived in Texas in the spring of 1998, with just two suitcases and 500 Mexican Pesos, which amounts to about $300. We felt so lost without our close family members. “Mamá Themis”, my maternal grandmother who told me bedtime stories and always let me use her watercolor pencils, and my uncle Gerardo who had the famous cat, Jensen, and who let me “read” his endless poetry books. I felt sad as the days went by without my paternal grandparents, Manuel and Emma. My grandfather would let me sit on his shoulders and he carried me around the entire house while my grandmother cooked delicious, but limited, food for us. We found ourselves alone for the first time ever, in a country that was entirely foreign and surrounded by people that gave us disapproving looks.

As soon as she could, my mother enrolled me in pre-k so that I could start getting used to being in school with English speaking children as well as Spanish speaking ones. My mother was told that I had to be in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program until 5th grade because that was how long it would take for me to fully adapt and understand the English language. Every morning at 9 am, I would be taken to a small classroom where I was “taught” English. I remember them teaching me words like “the” and “dog”. We never learned how to string sentences together to be able to at least ask for a cup of water when we were thirsty. The teacher wasn’t very nice and she did not seem to understand that the kids in this “class” were kids that didn’t know any English whatsoever. In 1st grade I was singled out and sent to a classroom where there were only American kids. Almost immediately after I walked in, the kids made fun of me and told me my skin was a “weird color”. They told me to go back to my country because I “didn’t belong here”; I was not like them. They also said I was dressed “funny” and that I could not sit with them at lunch, so I found myself sitting alone wishing that my mother would show up one day to save me.

The year passed and I was surprised at how quickly I managed to become completely fluent in English. I was always worried about being able to communicate with my teachers and classmates, but not so much anymore. A few months after 2nd grade began, my mother was called into a parent-teacher meeting at the school. I remember being scared that they were going to kick me out of school because I couldn’t speak English correctly. Instead, the teacher asked my mother if it was true that I was born in Mexico and that Spanish was my native language. My mother said yes and asked if there was a problem at school. The teacher told her that I spoke and wrote in English better than most of the American kids at the school. At the time, I did not understand why that was such a big deal, but I do remember my mom taking me to my favorite ice cream shop because she was so proud of my accomplishments. In a matter of 15 months, I managed to become fluent in both English and Spanish.

Despite my triumphs, I continued to be bullied at school and told by teachers that I would never amount to much. If I found comfort in talking to a Hispanic kid at my school, the American kids laughed and told me, “We’re in America so you better speak English!”. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just leave me alone. From the young age of 7 years old, I was already in the mindset that I had to prove them all wrong. I had to prove to them that I was still a person and that I could speak English just like everyone else. My moment arrived in 5th grade, when I was the winner of the Spelling Bee at my school. I went on to get 6th place in the District Spelling Bee, where I was also representing my school. I even got my picture in the Sunday paper. Although I was only 10 years old, I knew that this was going to be the moment that changed the course of my life forever.

The discrimination and bullying never ceased throughout the long years of my education. I had a teacher in 10th grade that, despite kindly reminding him of my real name, called me “Maria” because I was Mexican, so “that’s a better name for a Mexican”. Another teacher put me in a class for “at risk kids” even though my grades were so good that I was in the top 10% of my class. She said that I was a mediocre student and that I was at risk of never graduating or even getting my GED. This was the last straw for my mother and when she went to the school to talk to that teacher, she simply told my mother that she was “doing her job”. I stopped going to that class, despite the risk of getting detention, because it was very clear that I did not need it and this was a matter of discrimination. Even when confronted, the teacher never apologized for her discriminatory remarks towards me. Despite the teachers that had negative things to say about me, there were many teachers that taught me to never give up and be proud of my background because it would take me far.

My one goal in life has always been to make my parents and little brother proud. I take pride in the fact that I accomplished that often during my time in school. First by winning the Spelling Bee in 5th grade, only 4 years after being new to this country and the language, and then by being selected to join the National Junior Honor Society at school due to my excellent grades. I played the trombone in middle school and I was first chair all three years of Symphonic Band, where I also received the “Most Outstanding Band Member” award in 8th grade. During that year I also made it into the All Region Concert Band as the 1st chair trombone player. In 10th grade I was named the “Most Valuable Player” in the Varsity Girl’s Tennis Team. I entered an art competition called VASE in 11th and 12th grade where I got the highest score for a painting and two photographs that I took. All of these awards, along with my excellent grades and service to the community helped me gain the confidence to keep fighting.

While I was trying my hardest to make my parents proud and excel in school, they had to endure some very rough stages. The money that they had invested into trying to obtain our permanent residency was completely lost after the attacks of 9/11. This also resulted in my father, an airplane mechanic, losing his job with the company that was sponsoring and helping us with all of the legal work. My parents questioned if the so-called “American Dream” was even worth it anymore, but they have never been quitters, so they decided to keep fighting. My father was finally relocated to Dallas to work for this same company. While this was a relief, the downside was that we could only see him every 2 weeks for about 10 hours. The money spent on gas and hotels was quickly taking a toll on the family and it became very noticeable. After a year that seemed like an eternity, my father got his old job back home and our family was back together, hopefully for good this time.

One of the best moments in my entire life was when I came home after “College Day” in 11th grade. I was highly upset because I did not have my permanent resident status, which meant that I would not be able to attend a University unless it was under the Dream Act. I got off the bus and retrieved the mail. I saw 3 large envelopes that were mailed from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization. I immediately started crying. I knew what this meant. In the envelopes were our United States Permanent Resident cards. I felt like I was on top of the world because that meant that I could go to college, something that I had been dreaming about for a long time. All of the hard work, dedication, and the sacrifices that my parents made paid off when I got my acceptance letter from Sam Houston. While I saw that others just sat around and wasted their time at college, I knew I had a higher purpose and I told myself I would do whatever it took to make sure I was successful in school and in life.

I am now a senior here at Sam Houston and I can honestly say that being an immigrant and being bilingual has helped me beyond belief. Something that I thought was an obstacle at first has opened so many doors for me and given me countless opportunities to be successful. I know of people who were smuggled through the U.S./Mexico border in a tire, some who had to swim in the dangerously cold and unpredictable waters of the Rio Grande, and some who traveled on top of The Beast, the train that runs through Mexico and where Enrique spent most of his time in Mexico. Keeping all of my experiences in mind, I have decided to attend law school and focus on Immigration Law. This is something that I have always been passionate about because it will allow me to help people that are presently going through the same, or worse, things that my parents and I went through. I believe I was one of the “lucky ones” because there are many people, like Enrique, that went through endless hindrances just to get to this country in order to reunite with their parents and to achieve the American Dream.

Legal or illegal, I believe we all have a common denominator: the American Dream, which is so appealing that people continuously risk their lives and leave their children behind for a long time to achieve it, like in the case of Enrique’s mother. Immigrants don’t come to this country to take away American jobs or opportunities, they come here with an open mind and heart, eager to work hard to prove that they deserve to be here in order to have a better lifeaway from war, poverty and dictatorial regimens, among other circumstances. They are just longing to feel accepted and successful in a country that is completely foreign, but that also offers them many opportunities for self-sufficiency. Whether they receive support from society or not, they all deserve to be residents, and someday citizens, of this country of opportunity that is a melting pot of cultures and customs. 

Poetry/Lyric Contest

The "Poetry and Lyric Contest," sponsored by the Professional and Academic Center for Excellence, offered $500 in scholarships to students who created verses that illustrated certain universal truths about the human condition that Sonia Nazario reveals to readers through Enrique's and Lourdes' stories.

$250 scholarship winner:
Jared Michael Smith, freshman health sciences major

“Letter to Lourdes”


Since age five I have been patientily waiting for the right time.
I cosigned death when you left; you were like my life
Can't decide I'm anxious it's like my life is at a stop sign.
Feeling like I'm living but living is always not

When I see you one day, maybe I won't cry.
Instead, I'll hug you and kiss your cheeks, on both sides.
Say I love you as I look into both eyes and stand by your side in
America until we both die.

I'm looking for my mother, can you tell me if you've 
seen her.
I swear I really lover her, in this vocer she looks cleaner.
Stop and stare at the picture just to picture her demeanor.
I mean, I really miss her can you tell me have you
seen her?

I just want to speak to you,
I'm afraid to touch.
How much longer until I reach you,
been on this train too much.
Plus I really want to meet you,
don't remember what you look like...
On to America, in search for the good life...
For the good life...

Love your son, Enrique

$250 scholarship winner:
Mark Reyes, junior computer science major


 “Of those, the counselors say, 75 percent are looking for their mothers. Some children say that they need to find out whether their mothers still love them.” – Enrique’s Journey, pg. 5 

A force exists,
Strong as a mountain
Yet fragile as glass.
It has no mass;
Formless, shapeless, weightless.
A treasure to those who have it,
And a source of envy for those who don’t. 

It survives, through scraps:
Of clothing,
Of memories,
Of scents and sights and sounds,
Of family,
Of hope. 

Immortal, but not invincible.
It is beaten down.
By pain, of having a hole gouged in the soul
By distance, of what feels like a thousand thousand miles
By betrayal, of abandonment that is not what it seems
But still it perseveres 

To have it is bliss,
But too many ask the dreaded, burning question:
Is it returned?
The aching, gnawing, thrashing curiosity,
Eating away the
It drives many to pilgrimage, to journey, to struggle.


No distance can stop them,
No border can hold them,
No thugs can break them,
Nothing will keep them from asking,
“Do you still love me?” 

The answer 



And always will be 


2015 SHSU Common Reader Research Poster Contest

The "Research Poster" contest, sponsored by the Elliott T. Bowers Honors College, provided a $500 scholarship to an incoming freshman who investigated a theme from the novel and presented that research in poster form

Winner: Raynie Leard, freshman public health major
"The Effects of Immigration on Latin American Children"


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