The Common Experience theme, “Bridged Through Stories: Shared Heritage of the United States and Mexico, an Homage to Dr. Tomas Rivera,” is meant to bring together Texas State faculty and students, by embracing the diverse community of the University.
Chicano author and educator Tomas Rivera is referenced as one of Texas State University’s most notable alumni, where Common Experience Director Jesse Gainer, says he choose to share stories that featured the Mexican-American identity.
“He was an educator. He was an author, poet and creative writer, and part of what he stood for was validating the Mexican-American experience, and in case specifically the migrant farm workers that were the community he grew up in, who were never depicted in books that he read as a kid. And he said when you don’t see yourself reflected in the pages of books, especially when you’re a kid in school, you’re always reading books about other people’s experience, it does something to your sense of identity and how you feel about your own community. And he knew that that was wrong, and he wanted to do something about that. So his work to depict his community, in thoughtful and complicated ways, was also an effort to open doors for the Mexican-American community and for the broader society. So this whole year long theme is a tribute to him.”
As a director, Robert Rodriguez has become renowned for his unique film style and connections he makes through his films, while also representing a shared heritage of the United States and Mexico.
Being the son of two Mexican-American parents, and being born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Rodriguez attributes his success to his Hispanic heritage, saying he created his own stars because of the lack of famous Latino and Latina actors and actresses.
Rodriguez also credits failing as an area he was able to learn from saying he has failed many times and tries not to worry about it.
“You just have to be fearless, and it just has to be there. Who cares if it’s good or not?… Failure is not always durable. You know, what they fire you for when you’re young is what they give you lifetime achievements awards for when you’re old, because it might be good but just rubs people the wrong way because is it good and it’s very new.”
Rodriguez also gave some advice to students, saying they should ignore their doubts and that anything is possible if they believe in themselves and follow their instinct.
“See other filmmakers, who made a movie that bombed and did terrible, it had bad reviews, it was completely rejected, they thought they made a good film so they questioned their instinct and started thinking I must not know what people want. They’re using the wrong measurement of success. And later, ten years later, when people want heroine as a big thing, they’ve wasted ten years being down of themselves and not listening to their inner voice, and their inner voice is right. So if you ever fail, well maybe in ten years it’ll be considered. Try to not always worry about trying to define what success is. You really just want to move from one failure to the next.”
Rodriguez ended the speech by reminding attendees that their biggest obstacle is themselves, saying “live your life creatively, it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.”
To view the entire Common Experience events calendar, you can visit the official Texas State University Common Experience events page.