Discover Your Island

Island University Welcomes Chicana Author, Activist, and World Traveler

September 18, 2017

Stephanie Elizondo Griest-CLA Reading

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – After traveling the world and journaling her explorations, author Stephanie Elizondo Griest returned to her hometown of Corpus Christi and was invited to speak at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The Department of English welcomed this award-winning Chicana author and activist on Sept. 13 to speak at the University Center. She spoke to interested students, faculty and staff members about her travels and latest book, “All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands.” She desired to inspire attendees to achieve their dreams and to renew interest in the borderlands. In addition to being an author, Griest is currently an Assistant Professor and Margaret Shuping Fellow of Creative Nonfiction at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“As a graduate of Mary Carroll High School, Stephanie embodies all the different possibilities of success for Corpus Christi students,” said Dr. Kevin Concannon, Chair of the Department of English and Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “This was an opportunity to hear a great speaker who is also a great role model for students”

Deciding to pursue her wildest dreams, Griest led an interesting life of exploring different countries and documenting stories of marginalized voices. During the evening, she shared stories of her many travels, both in far-off places like Moscow and close to home along the Texas and Mexico border. Despite living a nomadic life in her twenties and thirties, she was excited to return home to embolden fellow Corpus Christians and offer insight for Islanders.

“I especially enjoy speaking to students here in Corpus Christi,” said Griest. “I want to convey the sense that we can pursue these big crazy dreams that we have. It’s entirely possible if you really, wholeheartedly work towards it.”

The evening consisted of more than just Griest’s personal narratives. She presented many slides that showcased the art along a variety of border walls, from walls located along the United States–Mexico border to border walls found across the globe. She recounted stories both told to her and interpreted through discarded belongings of Mexicans attempting to cross into the United States.

“It was such an honor to spend seven years of my life recording stories of Tejanos,” said Griest. “I hope to empower students with the knowledge of modern history and what’s happening in their community. I hope they see themselves reflected in the characters they read about.”

For students aspiring to be authors, Griest had insight to share thanks to her travels.

“Live boldly, read widely and take a profound amount of notes,” advised Griest. “The road is the greatest of all teachers. All the wisdom I gained is from the traveling I have done.”

Hosting poets and novelists is just one of the ways the Department of English at A&M-Corpus Christi enriches Islander life. The Department supports a variety of events, activities and opportunities for students. This includes organizations, publication opportunities, open mic events and community outreach. To learn more about the Department of English and activities they host, click here.