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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Make your place in the world’: Author discusses community, imposter syndrome and taking chances

Cheyanne Tull
Eiran Saucedo-Rodarte does a Q&A on stage with Quiara Alegria Hudes about her book and this year’s Common Read, “My Broken Language.” Hudes is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes addressed first-year students at this year’s Academic Convocation. The author of Wichita State’s Common Read selection, “My Broken Language,” Hudes is also the writer of the script for the Broadway musical “In the Heights” as well as the screenplay for the play’s 2021 film adaptation. 

The convocation’s program featured a Q&A session between Eiran Saucedo-Rodarte, assistant director of first-year programs, and Hudes. This followed an introduction by WSU President Rick Muma and speeches by Student Government Association President Iris Okere and Sara Mata, executive director of Hispanic Serving Initiatives

Saucedo-Rodarte asked questions submitted by first-year students. The discussion centered around Hudes’ career, personal inspirations and her memoir. 

Hudes explained how she had planned on building a career in music but instead found herself called to writing. She said that an interview with her uncle, a Vietnam War veteran, as part of her research for a play had shown her the value of her work. 

“Whatever happened with the plays – whatever prizes they got, whether they went to Broadway, if they got good reviews – that didn’t even matter anymore,” Hudes said. “The ability to have a process that can make a connection like that, I knew I had chosen the right path.”

Hudes also highlighted the importance of her family and their local Puerto Rican community in her life, as well as how she navigated difficult topics in her writing. 

“I think the memoir is a really good example of what happens when I’m trying to do an act of love and healing within my community, but it also brings up taboo subjects,” she said.  

In particular, discussing the subject of illiteracy within her community was difficult for Hudes when writing “My Broken Language.” 

“I was so terrified because some of my family members still deal with illiteracy,” she said. “They’re embarrassed. They don’t want that to be broadcast to the world. But by the same token, without advocating for the need, the need never gets addressed.”  

To Hudes, taking risks in her writing is worth it and reflects the risks taken by others in her community, especially those who immigrated to the United States.

“Talk about a tremendous leap of faith that our parents, our grandparents or our ancestors, or that we ourselves took,” she said. “There is no bigger leap of faith than that; there is no bigger abandoning of a community than that. We make ourselves lost to come here, to come to the United States. And yet, we expand the circle of who our community is.”

 After the Q&A session, Hudes added her own advice for the students in attendance on dealing with imposter syndrome. 

“There’s no place in the world that you fit in that’s made for you,” she said. “Your job is to make your place in the world.” 

Hudes referred to the labor activist Dolores Huerta and an instance in which Huerta challenged derogatory language toward women in a meeting of labor advocates. 

“Dolores was the only woman there when they were organizing these farm events,” she said. “She was the only woman in these rooms, so she didn’t really belong in those rooms. You belong in the rooms where you are, but you have to figure out how.”

Health sciences major Alice Ukoha attended the signing and said Hudes’ answers were motivating to her as a first-year student.

“Her words are inspirational, especially talking about walking your own path,” she said. “It’s hard to start in a new environment, and so it’s helpful to do stuff for you and not for other people.”

The convocation was followed by a book signing. where students got an opportunity to meet Hudes. 

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About the Contributors
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a reporter for The Sunflower. She is a junior pursuing a bachelors in journalism and media production.
Cheyanne Tull
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a second year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is pursuing a double major in graphic design and journalism and media production. She hopes to work with outdoor brands combining her love for adventure and creativity after graduation.

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