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Award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario will give the keynote address at Whittier College's 110th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 17, 9 a.m. in Memorial Stadium on the Whittier College campus. During the event, at which approximately 360 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to receive their degrees, Nazario will also receive an honorary degree from the Whittier College faculty: a doctorate of humane letters (L.H.D.).
Nazario is best known for her national bestselling book, "Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother," which tells the true story of an Honduran boy's struggle to find his mother in the United States.
"Enrique's Journey" first appeared as a series in the Los Angeles Timesand won more than a dozen awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2003, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Overall Excellence. Expanded into a book, "Enrique's Journey" became a national bestseller, won three book awards, and was required reading for all incoming freshmen at nearly 60 universities and dozens of high schools nationwide. At Whittier, the book was widely read by the class of 2013 in preparation for a visit to campus by the author in 2009.
Nazario has spent 20 years reporting and writing about social issues, most recently as a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She has won numerous national journalism and book awards and has been named among the most influential Latinos by Hispanic Business magazine and a "trendsetter" by Hispanic magazine. In 2012 Columbia Journalism Review named Nazario among "40 women who changed the media business in the past 40 years."
Nazario, who grew up in Kansas and in Argentina, has written extensively from Latin America and about Latinos in the United States. She began her career at the Wall Street Journal, where she reported from four bureaus: New York, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles. In 1993, she joined the Los Angeles Times.
She serves on the advisory boards of the University of North Texas Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Writer's Conference and of Catch the Next, a non-profit working to double the number of Latinos enrolling in college. She is also on the board of Kids In Need of Defense, a non-profit launched by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie to provide pro-bono attorneys to unaccompanied immigrant children.
Nazario is a graduate of Williams College and has a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley.