Scholar Stories: Tiana Silvas-Brunetti

How do you use writing or art in your life?

Writing has always been part of my life. As a little girl, writing came in the form of stories. I was surrounded by stories from my elders. My memories of these stories go back to the mesquite burning barbecues with the mariachi music blasting and the cousins running around. The stories from my family helped me understand and make sense of the world. Through those stories, I discovered the layers of my family, built relationships, and learned my history. At a young age in school, I started to feel silenced when I realized that the stories filling the shelves and history books in school were not the stories that filled my life. The stories that filled my life were family stories centered on our experiences which emphasized strength and resilience. These stories taught life lessons that I carry with me today and I now pass them down to my own children. My family’s stories are why I write. I write because I refuse to be silenced. I write with the hope that someone will listen. I write to heal. I write to reclaim our stories. I write to keep the legacy of our family alive.

What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship?

I always draw on the experiences of my family and community. These experiences ignited the fire within me that has led me to fight for justice and to have the courage to be my whole self as an educator. As a teacher and mother of two children who are navigating the world, I know that I must be there for our youth as my elders were there for me: creating pathways to discovery, questioning the world with courage, and by listening with my heart. 

What would you tell your younger self?

Dear Tiana, 

Trust yourself. Do not be afraid to take a stand. You are strong. You have generations of teachings in your soul to help guide you. Your elders have paved the way for you with compassion and strength. This will make you resilient as you create your own narratives for the life you live. Be bold, have courage, and be YOU.

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

My advice for new scholars and teachers is to find your circle of support. As we are on our journey, we will face emotional labor and exhausting times.  It is important to have people to encourage and cheer for you along the way. For me, it is necessary to be in communication with my circle of support. My circle of support has been my family and the strong women in my life who have been there to listen while providing guidance and insight.

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