The College of Arts and Letters at Cal State San Bernardino will honor students Erika Quiñonez as its Outstanding Graduate Student and Graciela Troche as its Outstanding Undergraduate Student during its commencement ceremony at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Saturday, June 16, at 4 p.m.Although Quiñonez has a strong background in business, having earned her bachelor’s in business administration from Cal Poly Pomona and MBA from CSUSB, she has always had a passion for English.
“Following the advice of well-intentioned family members, I set aside aspirations to study and teach English for the more ‘practical’ and ‘stable’ route of business,” said Quiñonez, who is from San Bernardino. “While that course of study was truly invaluable, and I never regret having studied business, my interest and curiosity in the English language persisted.”
It was the death of her sister at age 38 and the realization of how short life can be that motivated her to pursue English. She will be graduating with her master’s in English composition with a concentration in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language.
Quiñonez was also inspired by her parents, who immigrated to the United States with few possessions, but still managed to work hard and give her and her siblings a happy life.
“They are the living embodiment of the American Dream, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they so lovingly sacrificed for us,” she said.
During her graduate studies, Quiñonez learned how traditions of racism, sexism, homophobia and other institutions of social injustice have been constructed and perpetuated through language. She completed her thesis by utilizing “critical discourse analysis as a theoretical lens to carefully examine samples of discourse from news reports and presidential speeches to reveal how certain elements of language and categories of representation contribute to the construction of anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric.”