Harvardwood Presents: Write Your Life: Memoirs, Personal Essays and more

September 28, 2022 at 5:30pm - 6:30pm

5:30pm PST / 8:30pm EST

Join Harvardwood to learn how to write your memoir: a conversation between author Jesse Leon MPP '01 and Ruben Navarrette AB '90 MPA '00 about writing and sharing Latino stories, featuring Jesse Leon's new memoir "I'm Not Broken". 

In this unflinching and inspiring memoir, Jesse Leon tells an extraordinary story of resilience and survival, shining a light on a childhood spent devastated by sex trafficking, street life, and substance abuse.

Born to indigenous working-class Mexican immigrants in San Diego in the 1970s, Jesse Leon’s childhood was violently ruptured. A dangerous and harrowing encounter at a local gift shop when he was eleven years old left Jesse with a deadly secret. Hurt, alone, and scared for his life, Jesse numbed his pain by losing himself in the hyper-masculine culture of the streets and wherever else he could find it—in alcohol, drugs, and prostitution.

Overlooked by state sanctioned institutions and systems intended to help victims of abuse, neglected like many other low-income Latinos, Jesse spiraled into cycles of suicide and substance abuse. I’m Not Broken is the heartbreaking and remarkable story of the journey Jesse takes to win back his life, leading him to the steps of Harvard University. From being the lone young person of color in Narcotics Anonymous meetings to coming to terms with his own sexual identity, to becoming an engaged mentor for incarcerated youth, Jesse finds the will to live with the love and support of his family, friends, and mentors. Recounting the extraordinary circumstances of his life, Jesse offers a powerful, raw testament to the possibilities of self-transformation and self-acceptance. Unforgettable, I’m Not Broken is an inspirational portrait of one young man’s indomitable strength and spirit to survive—against all possible odds.

JESSE LEON is a social impact consultant to foundations and investors on ways to address issues of substance abuse/addiction, affordable housing, and mental health. He is a native English and Spanish speaker and fluent in Portuguese. He is an alum of UC Berkeley and Harvard and based in San Diego.

RUBEN NAVARRETTE is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group, a contributor to The Daily Beast, a feature writer for Latino Magazine, a weekly contributor of short-form video to Straight Arrow News, a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, host of the podcast “Ruben In The Center,” author of “A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano” (Bantam), founder/CEO of “Navarrette Sonic Podcast Network” (NSPN), and a communications coach specializing in personal brand development. For more information, visit: www.rubennavarrette.com

Jesse and Ruben have known each other for 23 years. They met in the Fall of 1999, when they were both enrolled at the K-School. Jesse was in the MPP program, and Ruben was in the MPA mid-career program. They are both Mexican American, and both live in San Diego County.

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