BHCC Hosts a Compelling Conversation With Author and Producer Sonia Manzano

Sesame Street cast member,  and producer, author, and activist, Sonia Manzano, will talk about her career and new book, “Coming Up Cuban.”

Bunker Hill Community College’s (BHCC) Compelling Conversations, a multi-decade speakers series featuring leaders at the forefront of equity and justice across a spectrum of fields and perspectives, continues its 2022-23 season with a conversation with best-selling author and producer Sonia Manzano on the BHCC Charlestown campus, Thursday, March 9, 2023, at 1 p.m.

The conversation will be facilitated by BHCC Associate Vice President and Chief Equity and Compliance Officer Nahomi Carlisle, Esq. All Compelling Conversations—are free and open to the public with registration on the BHCC website at

Compelling Conversations are open to media, however recording (audio/video) is prohibited without advanced permission from the College. Requests for interviews must be made through the College. To RSVP, please contact Brendan Hughes, Director of Public Relations, at [email protected], or (617) 228-3402.

For over 40 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as “Maria” on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. A first generation American of Latin descent, Manzano’s tale is one of perseverance and courage as she overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television. Manzano was raised in the South Bronx, where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the production of Sesame Street, where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. She was thrilled to help write the story line for “Maria’s” marriage and birth of “Maria’s” baby, played for a while by Manzano’s real-life daughter Gabriela. Recently, Scholastic and Manzano partnered to launch two middle-grade novels and two picture books. Some of Manzano’s other books include her memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx (Scholastic), and a Christmas picture book, Miracle of 133rd Street (Simon & Schuster). Becoming Maria was praised by Kirkus Reviews for its “lyrical and unflinching account of her tough Nuyorican upbringing in the South Bronx,” and calls it a “touching memoir.” Kirkus Reviews says, “Manzano lovingly details life-changing moments,” with a “stark and heartbreaking contrast to her Sesame Street character.” Manzano’s latest book is A World Together, which aims to promote unity by celebrating cultural and generational diversity. Her upcoming book, Coming Up Cuban, will be out in April of 2022. Coming Up Cuban is set in 1959 and follows the lives of four children who each represent different intersections of race and class in Cuba.

Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, enrolling approximately 16,000 students annually. BHCC has campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea, and a number of other locations throughout the Greater Boston area. BHCC is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. Sixty-five percent of the students are people of color and more than half of BHCC’s students are women. The College also enrolls nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.

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