Skip to content Skip to content

Reyna Grande - Award-winning author, instructor - Pasadena City College

Award-winning novelist and memoirist Reyna Grande enrolled at Pasadena City College in 1994 to work on her goal of transferring to a university. She also became a staff writer for the college newspaper, The Courier. But her most memorable experience was meeting her mentor Dr. Diana Savas, her English professor. Dr. Savas was the first person to nurture Grande’s talent for writing, and she encouraged her to pursue it as a major. When Grande’s father was arrested for spousal abuse, Dr. Savas offered Grande her home. During the time that Grande lived with Dr. Savas and attended Pasadena City College, she was introduced to her favorite Latina writers—such as Sandra Cisneros—who inspired her to take her writing more seriously. By the time she left Dr. Savas’ home, Grande was well on her way to pursuing a career in writing.

Grande's first novel, "Across a Hundred Mountains," (Atria, 2006), received a 2010 Latino Books Into Movies Award, a 2007 American Book Award, and the 2006 El Premio Aztlán Literary Award. Her second novel, "Dancing with Butterflies," (Washington Square Press, 2009) was critically acclaimed and was the recipient of a 2010 International Latino Book Awards. Both novels have been read widely in schools across the country and have been published internationally. "The Distance Between Us," Grande's third book, was published on Aug. 28, 2012, by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In this memoir, Grande writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States. "The Distance Between Us" is an inspirational coming-of-age story about the pursuit of a better life.

Born in Mexico, Grande was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work. Her mother followed her father north two years later, leaving Grande and her siblings behind in Mexico. In 1985, when Grande was 9 years old, she entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. She later became the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Grande transferred from Pasadena City College in 1996 and went on to obtain a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing and film & video from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She later received her master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Antioch University. Now, in addition to being a published author, she is also an active promoter of Latino literature and is a sought-after speaker at high schools, colleges and universities across the nation.

Currently she is at work on her next novel.

Read about more notable alumni...