Award-winning novelist Reyna Grande enrolled at Pasadena City College in 1994 to pursue her goal of transferring to a university. She also became a staff writer for the college newspaper, The Courier. But her most memorable experience was meeting her mentor, Dr. Diana Savas, her English professor.

Savas nurtured Grande’s talent for writing, and she encouraged her to pursue it as a major. When Grande’s father was arrested for spousal abuse, Dr. Savas offered Grande her home. During the time that Grande lived with Savas and attended Pasadena City College, she was introduced to her favorite Latina writers – such as Sandra Cisneros – who inspired her to take her writing more seriously.

By the time she left the Savas home, Grande was well on her way to pursuing a career in writing.

Grande's first novel, ‘Across a Hundred Mountains’, received a 2010 Latino Books Into Movies Award, a 2007 American Book Award and the 2006 El Premio Aztlán Literary Award. Her second novel, ‘Dancing with Butterflies,’ earned a 2010 International Latino Book Awards. Both novels have been read widely in schools across the country and have been published internationally.

In Grande’s third work, ‘The Distance Between Us,’ she writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating to the United States, and it is an inspirational coming-of-age story about the pursuit of a better life.

Born in Mexico, Grande was 2, when her father left for the U.S. to find work. Her mother followed two years later, leaving Grande and her siblings behind in Mexico. In 1985, when Grande was 9, she entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant.

Grande transferred from Pasadena City College in 1996 and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing and film & video from UC Santa Cruz. She later earned her master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Antioch University.

A member of the prestigious Macondo Writers Workshop founded by Cisneros, Grande is the first in her family to graduate from college.