Interview with Juana M. Ortiz, author of I Made It!

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Inside the Book:

I Made It

Title: I Made It
Author: Juana M. Ortiz
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Author Juana Ortiz was born with cerebral palsy in the Dominican Republic, a country where prejudice against people with disabilities is strong. In I Made It, Ortiz shares the story of her experiences and struggles throughout her life, particularly her difficulties within the educational system. Through her writing, she seeks to address common misunderstandings that persist with regard to people with disabilities and their enrollment in school and to raise awareness regarding the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classes throughout college. A tale of achieving goals that seemed unreachable, her personal narrative offers hope and inspiration to those looking to live their dreams. “While this book is both empowering and inspirational, it isn’t about cerebral palsy. I Made It is meant to challenge the societal and cultural expectations that are placed on those living with disabilities. Through determination and an unyielding desire to live her life, the author offers a heartfelt glimpse into her life and how she overcame those barriers.” —Cathleen M. Capasso, Disability Advocate “I Made It is … an eloquent and honest account of overcoming cultural and disability related barriers … As the author writes, ‘following your butterflies.’ Full of heart and wisdom, it is a glimpse into the beauty of the human spirit and one woman’s determination to live her dreams.” —Carole Tonks, Executive Director Alliance Center for Independence

Question1- What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The hardest part was editing the manuscript. Since I couldn’t afford to hire an editor to edit it I had to ask people for help. They took time out of their busy schedule.

Also the process involved re-writing several time until the manuscript was ready to be submitted to the publisher for publication.

Question2- Do you have a favorite excerpt from the book? If so, can you share

it? Yes I do have a favorite excerpt.

I was just ten years old. Every weekday morning I stood by the door of the backyard looking at the narrow street of Las Mercedes in Bani. Quietly, I observed the other kids passing by wearing their school uniforms. Sometimes they wore a yellow shirt or a blue one with light brown pants.

They carried books in their arms on their way to school. I wanted to go to school with them, but I had to stay home with Mami, instead.

One day, my mother told me that I couldn’t attend school because of my physical limitation. That was a key moment, because I became aware that I was different from the other kids, not just physically, but also from a sociological point of view.

Question3- What do you hope readers will take away after reading the book?

The courage to fight for their dreams regardless the obstacle that they have to deal with. I set goals most people thought I could not achieve, but I did, and I want others to know they can, too.

Question4- Who or what is the inspiration for the book?

My life experiences. All the obstacles that I had overcome at different stages. All the accomplishments that I had achieve that in some point seemed unreachable.

Question5- Have you had a mentor? If so, can you talk about them a little?

Yes I had a mentor. Mark Hillringhouse an English Professor a publish poet.

My mentor the person that lit my road in middle of the darkness. He made a big difference in my life by encouraging me to not give up my dream of obtaining a college degree. Due to Professor Hillringhouse teaching and support I became aware of my talent as a writer. A talent that I didn’t know I had until then. A couple sentences is not enough to express my gratitude and explain why I am so thankful for his teaching and support.

Question6- I have heard it said in order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader as well? Do you find this to be true? And if you are a reader, do you have a favorite genre and/or author?

I strongly believe that reading and writing goes hand by hand I don’t have any doubt about it. I enjoy reading memoirs, poetry, anything that is related to therapeutic writing and news article.

Meet the Author:

Juana M. Ortiz was born in the Dominican Republic and has had cerebral palsy since birth. She moved to the United States with her family when she was a teenager and received strong support from her parents, who worked hard to ensure she had a good quality of life. She currently lives in Hawthorne, New Jersey.

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