San Jacinto College alumnus performs at literature showcase ‘Nuestra Palabra’
04.28.2016 | By Rob Vanya
San Jacinto College alumnus Icess Fernandez Rojas, a writer, blogger, journalist, and educator, was a featured performer at the recent “Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say,” an annual Houston bilingual event that promotes Latino literature and literacy.
Founded in 1998, the “Nuestra Palabra” literature showcase features performances by noted area Latino authors, playwrights, and educators. At the event, Fernandez read from a non-fiction essay she authored entitled “Dear Unborn You,” a first-person letter that deals with mothering and the lament of not being a mother. For medical reasons, Fernandez is unable to bear children.
“I know that it’s bad and even hurtful to say, but I’ve already embraced the idea of not being your mother,” the essay begins. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did I. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Other excerpts from “Dear Unborn You” include:
“Even though you’ll never be born, I had names for you and your sister. Yes, there were going to be two of you. Beautiful little girls ready to set this world on fire. Your father? I don’t know who that would have been. I haven’t found him yet and he hasn’t found me. I’m not sure he will stick around when he finds out you two won’t be joining us. Who wants to throw away their chance at making a family? Isadora Rosalina (that’s your name by the way) your little sister is named Nena Carmen … I will admit, I still hold a sliver of hope that we’ll be together even though I know medically that’s never going to happen. I think, during the darkest of nights, that some wonderful woman will give birth to you and hand you over to me; that we’ll look at each other, me with tears in my eyes and you with your new twinkling eyes and we’ll just know. We were made for each other and now we are whole … I’ve known you weren’t coming since 18. At first I didn’t believe it. Back then, doctors handed out what-if scenarios more than prescriptions. I swallowed all the what-ifs and maybes and the perhaps they prescribed. After awhile, the what-ifs became never-weres and soon it dawned on me that you would never be here. I cried myself dry, cried myself until I was dead inside … Oh, my beautiful little girl. You are my life. You are the life I will never know, the life I will always be curious about, the unanswered prayer I still whisper. You are love, and I love you madly. Part of my heart is yours always. If we never meet, even in dreams, even in death, know that you are my very heart beat, the essence of what I know to be good and pure in this world. You are true, even if you don’t exist. I love you, Isadora. I love Nena. Take care of each other.”
Fernandez attended San Jacinto College in 1997 and transferred to the University of Houston (UH). She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from UH, and a master’s in creative writing from Goddard College. She is an adjunct English composition instructor at San Jacinto College. Her teaching philosophy is to bring literature to life. “The challenge for every teacher who has ever taught literature is to make it relevant,” she commented. “From Shakespeare to the Hunger Games, how do we compete with phones, social media, TV, etc. to get students engaged with literature?”
Fernandez says selecting the right material, along with finding ways to get students involved are important. “I pick material that students can relate to,” she said. “There must be something in the material that’s relevant. Usually it’s the experience of the characters or the plot. From there, we talk about literature as if it were a living, breathing thing. I ask students what they would do if they were in similar situations. I challenge them, make them use their brain power. I bring in audio and visual components and compare what’s in the story to what’s going on today. I’m constantly evaluating how students engage with the literature so that it means more than just a course assignment. I strive for innovation. My students not only read literature, but also produce movies, skits, plays, and songs about the literature.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.