YA Author De Leon Visits WHS: Discusses Diversity, Representation, and Code Switching


Daphnne Cabrera '23

YA author Jennifer De Leon visited WHS to discuss her book Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From.

Daphnne Cabrera '23 and Alixe Cecchini '23, Co Editor and Opinion Editor

Jennifer De Leon, author, editor, speaker, and creative writing professor visited Westborough High School on October 6 to discuss her young adult novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From was one of WHS’s summer reading selections.

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From is a fictional novel written about a 15-year-old girl, Liliana Cruz, who lives in a Boston neighborhood. She discovers that she has been accepted into a program called METCO that will transfer her to a wealthy and white suburban high school 20 minutes away from her home. De Leon focuses on the issues that people of color teens face such as racism, immigration, identity, and family.

De Leon was born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents. She graduated from Connecticut College with a double major in International Relations and French. De Leon has also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of San Francisco’s Center for Teaching Excellence and Social Justice while in the Teach For America program, and later, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from UMASS-Boston.

In her talk, De Leon explained that growing up, she would experience microaggressions, but wasn’t aware that there was a term for it. She also explained how both she and her main character Liliana had to code switch in different life situations.

WHS senior Larissa Carmargo commented, “It’s very

It’s very important that she [De Leon] came to represent minorities that we have in our school and talk about topics that are barely discussed.”

— Larissa Carmargo '23

important that she [De Leon] came to represent minorities that we have in our school and talk about topics that are barely discussed.

De Leon has traveled to different high schools across Massachusetts to share her literature and encourage students to express themselves through writing. De Leon had lunch with the WHS ELL students.

De Leon has authored several books. Her next book Borderless will be released in 2023. (Alixe Cecchini ’23)

WHS librarian Ms. Cellucci is the teacher who invited De Leon to WHS.

“I generally invite authors to Westborough High School to expand our literature. After reading Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, I saw that the book represented equity and empathy. As a mother of a son and daughter who are bi-cultural, who didn’t have enough representation in school, I felt it was important to provide students at WHS who experience similar struggles, the opportunity to have De Leon as a speaker,” Ms. Cellucci shared.

For more information about De Leon’s other book titles: https://jenniferdeleonauthor.com/about/