My Role Model: Juan Felipe Herrera


Andrika Culliton

By Andrika Culliton, Junior at MRHS

Most people should know that September 15th is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month which means they should start celebrating members of the Hispanic community who impact lives. One person who impacted my life is Juan Felipe Herrera. 

Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet/activist who was born in Fowler, California on December 27th, 1948. His parents were field workers most of his life which made him appreciate the hard work they did to provide him with the life he has now. In his early life, he struggled because he lived in tents and trailers; however, he ended up going to Stanford University in 1977. Later he earned an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He also wrote for a musical called The Upside Down Boy which was well received in New York City in 2004. At UCLA he studied social anthropology and did experimental theater.

Juan supported the rights of indingeous people and also his own people. He didn’t sit back on the sidelines watching indigenous people being treated badly, instead he fought against it so he could give back to the people. His inspiration was Allen Ginsberg. Allen was a inspiration to Juan because of his presence while he is reading his poetry also the way he doesn’t shy away from the fact that he is an openly gay guy which a lot of people today still see as a sin. Juan Felipe Herrera always wanted to be a writer because he wanted to feel free with his writing. If I asked him, “What advice would you give someone who wants to be more like you?” He would probably say, “Fighting for a cause that you could relate to is the best thing you can do, especially if that cause not only benefits you, but others. It’s important to think of ways to give back and not be so selfish in life because the older you get does not always mean the wiser you get. It could also mean the more ignorant you could become. Having a good heart is the best thing you could ever have because helping people out means that I would possibly do the same for you in return.” (Blumberg)This is why Juan Felipe Herrera is my role model and should definitely be yours.