Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Burro Genius author Victor Villasenor to speak at Texas A&M-Kingsville

Jones Auditorium, Ben Bailey Art Gallery - 02/12/14 - 02/21/14

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Each year, a committee at Texas A&M University-Kingsville chooses a book that is read by all freshmen as part of their university success classes—an effort known as the Common Read. For the 2013-14 academic year, the book chosen for the Common Read was Burro Genius by Victor Villaseñor, a five-time national bestselling author and three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

Students read the book during the fall semester and then have the special opportunity to hear from the author in the spring. 

Villaseñor will be on campus to speak to those freshmen and the public at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, in Jones Auditorium. Following the lecture, a reception will be held for Villaseñor in the Ben Bailey Art Gallery.

This year’s lecture is sponsored by the University Lectureship Series and the Center for Student Success. It is free and open to the public.

“Each year, the Common Read for the UNIV 1101-1102 courses are carefully selected by a committee comprised of faculty from across the university’s colleges, representatives from the student body and members of the community,” said Jenni Vinson, lecturer in the language and literature department and writing tutor coordinator at the Center for Student Success.

“It is the committee’s hope that freshmen will be encouraged to engage in active reading, which should benefit them across their studies and that they will gain a sense of community by discussing the Common Read with faculty and staff,” she said. “Freshmen engage in activities created by the Common Read Committee and the Center for Student Success, which allow them to gather for the purpose of academic socialization, like sharing a meal while discussing the book.

“We also seek to instill a sense of pride in our freshmen by presenting them with such stellar events and opportunities which they can anticipate throughout their careers at Texas A&M-Kingsville,” she said.

For more information on the lecture, call 361-593-3290. 

About Burro Genius

Burro Genius is the memoir of Victor Villaseñor. As a highly gifted and imaginative child, Villaseñor coped with an untreated learning disability that was later diagnosed when he was 44 years old. He struggled as a Latino growing up in an English-only American school in the 1940s.

Despite teachers who beat him because he could not speak English, Villaseñor clung to his dream of one day becoming a writer and he is now considered one of the premier writers of our time. 

About Victor Villaseñor

Villaseñor was born in the barrio of Carlsbad, California in 1940. He was raised on a ranch four miles north of Oceanside. Since his parents were born in Mexico, Villaseñor spoke only Spanish when he started school.

After years of facing language and cultural barriers, heavy discrimination and a reading problem, later diagnosed as dyslexia, he dropped out of high school during his junior year and moved to Mexico. There he discovered a wealth of Mexican art, literature and music that helped his recapture and understand the dignity and richness of his heritage.

Villaseñor returned to the United States when he was 20 and he began to feel the old frustration and anger return as he once again witnessed the disregard toward poor and uneducated people and especially toward Mexicans. Then a chance encounter with James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, changed his life. It awakened a desire to confront through literature the problem associated with his cultural heritage that continued to plague him.

His body of work includes a number of nonfiction books, all used in schools throughout the country, including the first family trilogy Wild Steps of Heaven, Rain of Gold and Thirteen Senses; the second family trilogy Burro Genius, Crazy Loco Love and Beyond Rain of Gold; Jury: The People vs Juan Corona; Macho!; and Lion Eyes. Several are national bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize-submitted. 

Walking Stars is a book of nine short stories written to inspire youth. He also has written a collection of children’s books that each teach an important life lesson, including The Frog and his Friends Save Humanity, Goodnight, Papito Dios; Little Crow to the Rescue; Mother Fox and Mr. Coyote; and The Stranger and the Red Rooster. Villaseñor also wrote the screenplay The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, which starred Edward James Olmos. A miniseries on Rain of Gold and Thirteen Senses is in progress. 

Villaseñor’s work has earned him numerous awards and endorsements including the Founding John Steinbeck Chair appointment.

His commitment to world harmony and peace is demonstrated through Snow Goose Global Thanksgiving, Villaseñor’s nonprofit organization established to promote peace and harmony throughout the world.


This page was last updated on: February 12, 2014