South Orangetown Central School District

When author and former Goldman Sachs vice president Julissa Arce first emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. in sixth grade, she worried that she wouldn’t fit in. She didn’t speak English and didn’t look like the kids that she saw on American television programs. When she arrived in San Antonio, Texas, Arce was relieved to find that many of her classmates did look like her and speak Spanish, but she didn’t see her experience reflected in characters on TV or in books she read.

Eventually, that disconnect and her journey as a high-achieving student and undocumented immigrant, inspired Arce to become an author. Twentieth Century Fox Television is developing her first book, My (Underground) American Dream, as a series. Arce’s young adult memoir, Someone Like Me, was released this month.

Today, thanks to SOCES PTA, Arce–one of People en Español’s 25 Most Powerful Women of 2017–shared her story with Cottage Lane Elementary School fifth-graders.

“I know that you have classmates that come from all over the world and that they may do things a little differently…I remember that my lunch smelled delicious to me, but other kids would laugh and make fun. It hurt my feelings,” Arce recalled. “I wrote this book for kids like me and for friends of kids like me to understand what my experience was like. Have courage to be kind, not because teachers are making you, but because you know what others are going through.”

“We were excited to have the opportunity to hear Julissa’s story!” said CLE Principal Karen Ramirez. “Our word of the month is ‘courage,’ and her story was a perfect fit for courage, as well as honoring Hispanic Heritage Month and the stories of so many Americans like her.”

Author Julissa Arce