Steven Schick and Luis Alberto Urrea

From Borders to Bridges

Work of UC San Diego Literature alumnus highlighted in Department of Music's Reed Family Concert

Called a “border writer more interested in bridges,” Luis Alberto Urrea received a welcome homecoming the first week of February, when the UC San Diego alumnus returned to partake in a groundbreaking music and literature festival like no other.

Now a prolific, best-selling author, the Department of Literature graduate was born in Tijuana, living the first part of his youth in Mexico before moving to San Diego after a serious wave of tuberculosis swept through the city in the late 1950s. Hit hard by infection himself, Urrea slowly recovered and the family stayed in the United States.

Guests with Luis Urrea“To me, Tijuana was a wonderland,” Urrea told a packed house at the San Diego Central Library Feb. 1, where he was the featured guest for UC San Diego Extension’s Helen Edison Lecture Series. “It’s hard for me to express how awesome it was. It was this place where anything was possible.”

With ties throughout Mexico, he alternated school in the U.S. with long summer trips to visit extended family — sometimes taking 20-hour bus rides deep into the heart of the country. It was there, and in Tijuana, where Urrea met many of the “characters” who would fill his future books.

At first, though, drama caught his attention, and he began UC San Diego as a theater major, spurred on in part by a campus visit from Lily Tomlin in 1976. But being a writer and storyteller at heart, it was the literature department that ultimately led him to graduation day — though only after another touch of tragedy.

Read the full story on the UC San Diego News Center.

UC San Diego Arts and Humanities in the News

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Work of Literature alumnus Luis Alberto Urrea is highlighted in the Department of Music Reed Family Concert.

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Streaming now on UCTV, Department of Literature professor emeritus Roddey Reid traces the origins of the current toxic environment back some 30 years to a culture of abuse in the workplace, media and the political arena.

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Led by Department of History professor Nancy Kwak, our ‘Careers in the Humanities’ workshops highlight choices, concrete steps to successful futures.

Issues of Identity: In Conversation with Hilton Als

Pulitzer Prize-winning theater critic joins Department of Theatre and Dance students to discuss access and mentorship.

Faculty and Staff Step Up to Support UC San Diego

Susan Kirkpatrick, professor emerita of Spanish Literature, is creating the Kirkpatrick Literature Ph.D. Research Fund to provide research support for incoming doctoral students in the Department of Literature.

Media Contact

Anthony King
Twitter: @anthonyucsd



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