Latino speaker inspires students to go beyond borders

Juana Watson, Ph.D., visited Northern Kentucky University on Sept. 21 to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I loved NKU,” Watson said.

Watson gave the keynote address in the Otto M. Budig Theater and held a reception in SU 109. Over 50 students attended the event.

“I want to inspire students,” Watson said. “Students have to try, fight and never give up.”

Watson is a member of the National Speakers Association. She travels around the United States raising Latino awareness, promoting women’s rights and education and telling Latin-American folktales.

“She was a really interesting person,” said sophomore electronic media and broadcasting major Hector Diaz Morales. “She has an intriguing life story.”

Watson is a Mexican immigrant from the underdeveloped Aztec “magical village” Calnali, Hidalgo, Mexico. Watson moved to the U.S. at age 22 and learned to speak English at 33. She earned her high school diploma and eventually achieved a doctorate in adult education.

Watson is involved with nonprofit organizations that address poverty in rural Mexico (“Friends for Hidalgo”), linguistic awareness and education (“Badges without Borders”), and assimilation in Latino and non-Latino communities (“Su Casa Columbus”).

In the presentation, Watson discussed Mexican traditions like El Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), how Mexico was founded and why