Book by Esmeralda Santiago
Review by Julie Enciso
Advising and Transfer Services
Prince George’s Community College

Academic advisors often find themselves involved in difficult conversations surrounding concerns and issues arising from students navigating a complex immigration process. Esmeralda Santiago shares her personal experiences of a childhood marked by constant relocation and shifts in community, friends and school settings in her native Puerto Rico.

The book, When I was Puerto Rican, provides student affairs professionals with an understanding of the complex, difficult experiences faced by a number of immigrant students as well as challenges encountered by members of the local student population. While the author’s experience mirrors that of students who have migrated from a foreign country, the reader will gain insight to some of the disruption, instability and circumstances occurring in the lives of the non-foreign students. The book’s content exposes readers to examples of challenges and changes affecting the student’s life on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.

As a young person, the author demonstrates resolve in the face of difficulty given that her childhood and adolescence were defined by a series of predictable or unpredictable transitions. Advisors and other student affairs professionals can appreciate and respect her resilience and tenacity as she rallies setbacks and overcomes obstacles to reach heights in academic excellence.

Advisors or student affairs professionals are not the target audience for this book, though they will find information relevant to their work with students.  The content challenges advisors to better position themselves to understand their student’s world and be prepared to serve as a resource and offer a network of support services. 

 When I was Puerto Rican,(1993), Book by Esmeralda Santiago. Review by Julie Enciso.  New York: De Capo Press (Perseus Books), 278 pp., $14.95, (Paperback), ISBN # 978-0-306-81452-5

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