Professor Jennifer De Leon

Professor Jennifer De Leon


Jennifer De Leon

Creative writing professor Jennifer De Leon’s debut novel, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, explores the struggles of a 15-year-old Latina girl living in Boston who takes the bus each day to a primarily white school in the city’s affluent suburbs. Though technically a work of fiction, it draws heavily from De Leon’s personal experiences growing up in the Boston area with Guatemalan parents and becoming the first in her family to attend college.

“All projects and stories are special to me, but this one is the book that I would have loved for someone to have given me when I was in high school or college,” says De Leon. “It’s the story of a girl literally living in two worlds, and never truly feeling like she belongs to either one.”

De Leon says the main character in the book has been “swimming around in her mind” for about 10 years, and that it took her about five years to complete the novel.

“I received a fellowship with the Boston Public Library, which included a stipend and my own office,” she says. “I wrote the draft and sold it about two years ago.”

De Leon taught middle and high school ESL and English Language Arts in the Boston Public Schools for more than a decade before transitioning to higher education, in part, so that she could have more time to focus on her personal writing projects. She has been at Framingham State for three years, and was a recipient of the University’s Mary Miles Bibb Teaching Fellowship. Named in honor of the University’s first African American graduate, the fellowship is designed to increase diversity on campus by putting junior faculty from diverse backgrounds on a pathway to a tenure-track position.

De Leon has received several awards for her writing during her career, and her work has been published in more than a dozen literary magazines and anthologies. At FSU, she designed the University’s first Contemporary LatinX Literature course.

“It feels really rewarding to teach that class, and say, ‘Look, we can all continue to write in this tradition,’” notes De Leon. “I talk with them about the process of writing this book, the ups and downs. I want them to know that they can do it, too.”

Copies of Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most local independent book stores.