Interview With an Author: Erica Alfaro

Salvadora Sosa Prieto, Administrative Clerk, Multilingual Collections,
Author Erica Alfaro and her motivational book, Harvesting Dreams
Author Erica Alfaro and her motivational book, Harvesting Dreams. Photo: Frankie Leal Photography

Erica Alfaro is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and educational advocate. In 2019, Erica's graduation pictures went viral and made headlines around the world. She was featured in major media outlets such as CNN, The Huffington Post, and Yahoo News.

Erica's Harvesting Dreams book is an empowering, inspirational and motivational story. It is a testimony of a girl who went through many adversities and managed to reinvent herself and become the woman she is today. Erica's book won the 2022 International Latino Book Award in the Most Inspirational Young Adult category.

Erica, Would you tell us who Erica Alfaro is?

When I was 13, my family moved from Tijuana, Mexico, to Oceanside, CA. I became a teenage mother, dropped out of high school, and went through domestic violence. After many adversities, I resumed my studies and accomplished what I thought was impossible for someone like me. Today, I am an award-winning author, a nationwide keynote speaker, and an education advocate. I am the proud daughter of migrant farmworkers.

What inspired you to write this book, and where did the title Harvesting Dreams come from?

When I started college, I had difficulty believing someone with my background could get a college degree. I used to look for stories that would give me hope, but I couldn't find any book I could relate to. Then, one day, I promised myself that if I ever made it, I would write my story as a gift to my younger self. I decided my book would be titled Harvesting Dreams the day I received a message from one of my social media followers. In his message, he told me I was planting seeds of hope by sharing my story. "You are Harvesting Dreams."

When you say in your book "Erica from the Past," what do you mean, and how did you overcome this?

The "Erica from the past" is my younger self. My younger self used to feel like a victim of life; she used to wait for things around her to change, for someone to rescue her, but one day, she realized that nothing around her would change if she didn't change and that she was the only one that could rescue herself and change her life.

Erica from the past was the opposite of who I am today. But she is the reason why I share my story. She represents many people who are currently walking my journey. My healing process started when I realized my power was in my story. That my mess became my message.

How do you advocate for the Latinx community in this book?

Latino authors published less than 8% of books. I wrote my book to represent my community and advocate for higher education. Many people are currently walking my journey and might be looking for a story of hope. "Harvesting Dreams" could be that story.

Who are your five favorite authors or characters in history that you most admire or have inspired you throughout your life?

Les Brown, Regina Brett, Paulo Coelho, Oprah Winfrey, and Jim Rohn are my favorite authors.

  • Les Brown is the #1 Motivational speaker who motivated me to focus on mastering my craft as a keynote speaker.
  • Regina Brett is the author of the first development book I read when I was going through depression. Thanks to her book God Never Blinks, I could forgive the people who hurt me in the past.
  • In Paulo Coelho's book The Alchemist, I learned much about life and the importance of never stopping dreaming.
  • Oprah Winfrey is someone I deeply admire and see as a role model.
  • Jim Rohn is someone I listen to daily.

What does the word "Library" mean to you?

To me, "Library" means "Magical Place." A place with thousands of stories, lessons, and knowledge that can transform you into the best version of yourself.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on multiple projects. I'm working on my second book. I recently started my first podcast in Spanish, "Cosechando Suenos." I am working on creating the first bilingual Toastmasters communication club to teach Latinos in my community to speak in public.

What is the question that you're always hoping you'll be asked but never have been? What is your answer?

Q: What would you tell your younger self? A: First, I want to thank her for not giving up, and second, I want to say to her I am proud of her.

Would you share with us your favorite quote?

"You can use your adversities as an excuse to stop or as a reason to keep moving forward."

Suggested Reading List

Book cover of Harvesting dreams : defying the odds to achieve the American dream
Harvesting Dreams: Defying the Odds to Achieve the American Dream
Alfaro, Erica

Dreams do come true, and this story proves it! This is the testimony of a girl who never believed she could achieve great goals, for she always felt she was less than a man. A teenage mother and a victim of domestic violence, who, after years of many adversities, managed to reinvent herself and become the woman she is today-someone who has achieved everything she thought was impossible. In 2019, Erica's graduation picture went viral and made headlines around the world. She was dressed in a graduation cap and gown, standing in a field with her farm worker mother and father. To honor her parents' sacrifices, she took her master's degree pictures in the field where they had worked long hours to provide her with an education.

Book cover of Cosechando sueños : desafiando las adversidades para alcanzar el sueño americano
Cosechando sueños: desafiando las adversidades para alcanzar el sueño americano
Alfaro, Erica

Los Sueños se vuelven realidad, y esta historia lo comprueba! En el 2019 se viralizaron las fotografías de una joven hispana, vestida de toga y birrete en un campo de cultivo, junto a su madre y padre, trabajadores agrícolas. Se trataba de Erica Alfaro, quien a modo de celebración por haber culminado su maestría, decidió honrar los sacrificios de sus padres, tomándose la foto de graduación en el campo donde ellos trabajaron arduamente durante largas jornadas para poder brindarle educación.

Si te gusta leer historias de Éxito, entonces este libro te encantará y te inspirará! Este es el testimonio de una joven que pasó su infancia entre México y Estados Unidos, subyugada a una marcada línea fronteriza y a los límites económicos y culturales. De una chica que jamás creyó poder lograr grandes metas; que se sentía menos que un varón por ser mujer y que creía no estar preparada para dar un salto generacional tan grande como el que había en sí misma y en su núcleo familiar. De una muchacha que fue víctima de violencia doméstica, madre adolescente y que después de años de tantas adversidades, logró reinventarse para convertirse en la mujer que es hoy y lograr todo aquello que creía imposible.

¡Lee Cosechando Sueños y aprende cómo superar las adversidades!"Puedes usar tus adversidades como excusa para detenerte o como motivo para seguir avanzando."

Book cover for The Alchemist
The Alchemist
Coelho, Paulo

book cover
El alquimista
Coelho, Paulo

Book cover of The alchemist : a graphic novel
The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel
Ruiz, Derek

Book cover of God never blinks : 50 lessons for life's little detours
God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours
Brett, Regina

Book cover of Dios nunca parpadea : 50 lecciones para las pequeñas vueltas que da la vida
Dios nunca parpadea: 50 lecciones para las pequeñas vueltas que da la vida
Brett, Regina

Book cover of Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Watson, Renée

Book cover of Oprah Winfrey : la verdadera historia de una de las mujeres más poderosas del mundo
Oprah Winfrey: la verdadera historia de una de las mujeres más poderosas del mundo
Kelley, Kitty

Special thanks to Erica Alfaro, Multilingual Collections Team, and LatinX Group.