Bestselling Author Reyna Grande Announced as Commencement Keynote Speaker

April 25, 2024

Reyna Grande

Award-winning novelist Reyna Grande, who came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant at 9-years-old, will serve as keynote speaker for Chaffey College’s 107th Commencement Ceremony on May 16.

The ceremony, held at Toyota Arena in Ontario, will celebrate the achievements of more than 2,500 Chaffey students.

“Reyna Grande’s story shows us that courage, perseverance and determination can lead to a life of prosperity,” said Chaffey College Superintendent/President Henry D. Shannon. “Our students have overcome many of their own adversities to graduate, so I am sure our Panthers and their families will find her story inspirational.”

Grande, born in Guerrero, Mexico, detailed in her 2012 book “The Distance Between Us” the frightening experience of crossing the border with her father and siblings to “El Otro Lado” or “The Other Side.” She started writing at 13 while living and going to school in Highland Park. Writing began as an exercise to learn English faster, but soon became her passion.

She enrolled at Pasadena City College in 1994, and then transferred to University of California Santa Cruz where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Literature/Creative Writing. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Antioch University.

She has received the American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award and the International Latino Book Award. “The Distance Between Us” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a winner of the Eureka! Honor Award from the California Reading Association and the 2017 winner of the International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award. Grande also won the 2023 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award and the 2021 California Latino Spirit Award from the California Latino Caucus.

Grande writes about immigration, family separation, language trauma, the price of the American Dream and her writing journey. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, CNN and more. She appeared as a guest on Oprah’s Book Club television special in 2020.

She is a proud member of the Maconado Writers Workshop, an association of socially-engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity and serve community.