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Author Visits

Author visits promote literacy, engagement in the world, and a life-long love of reading and learning. Students meet writers "up close and personal" as they share their passion for the written word and their journeys as writers.

Helie Lee

Helie Lee, author, speaker and documentary filmmaker, is the author of Still Life with Rice and In the Absence of Sun, memoirs in which she chronicles her family's experience in war-torn Korea from the 1930s to 1997. In the Absence of Sun specifically details her risky attempt to rescue her uncle from North Korea.

Born in Seoul, Korea, Lee's family immigrated to America when she was four. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Political Science, she sojourned back to her birth country to rediscover her roots. When she returned to the U.S., Lee began writing her first book while working on such shows as In Living Color, Saved by the Bell, and The Martin Lawrence Show.

Her inspiring presentation illustrated how the hopes, struggles and sacrifices, unconditional love, and determination of three generations of her Korean-American family gave her the “wings” to fearlessly create her own path and make a difference in this world.

In anticipation of her visit, Book Club members read Ms. Lee’s memoirs; and, drama students, under the direction of Ms. Tracy Clavin, wrote and performed original one-act plays based upon themes from Still Life with Rice.

“I was inspired by her humility and genuine passion. I will never forget her stories or her empowering motto: I can! I will! Just watch me!” said Starla Martinez '20.

Helie Lee encouraged Ramona students to celebrate their cultural heritage and to learn their family history. As a world-renowned advocate for the rights of immigrants and North Korean refugees, Ms. Lee also advised students to continue informing themselves and others about the humanitarian crises that exist in our world today.

Past Authors

Marie Lu

Best-selling young adult novelist Marie Lu captivated her audience by recounting events in her life that fueled her creativity and resolve to become a writer. According to Mrs. Angelica Seager, Science Department Chairperson, “Her message of persistence was inspiring.”

“Marie Lu is one of the most inspirational women I’ve met in my life. Although her manuscripts were initially rejected by publishing companies for a decade or more, she kept the spark of her dream and drive alive. It was her persistence and creativity that got her to where she is today. She is a living example of the joy that comes from following your dreams and living your life to your fullest potential, or as Ms. Lu herself said, ‘YOLO! You Only Live Once!’”

Lisa Yee

Best-selling young adult author and humorist Lisa Yee is a friend of the Ramona community.

At her last visit, Ms. Yee focused her presentation on the theme of bullying in honor of International Anti-Bullying Week. Ms. Yee discussed her work and inspirations, including the young man who wrote to her about his own experiences of being bullied (and who became the inspiration for the main character, Marley Sandelski, in her acclaimed novel, Warp Speed.) Ms. Yee also read and discussed her essay, "Regret," which was featured in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories. Students and guests had the opportunity to meet Ms. Yee and to have their books signed by the author after the presentation.

A school-wide follow-up discussion led by students and a "We're Better Without Bullying" creative writing contest were spearheaded by our Librarian, Mrs. Tegtmeier.

Margaret Trost

Author and humanitarian Margaret Trost, the founder of the What If? Foundation, shared her story of charism and hope, that is chronicled in her profound book On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman’s Story of Hope and Possibility in Haiti.

Margaret Trost discussed the journey that led her to Haiti and to starting a food program that now serves meals to thousands of hungry children in Port-au-Prince each week. Mrs. Trost and her visit hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Honore', conducted follow-up discussions in the Library following her school-wide presentation. The entire school community was gifted with a copy of Mrs. Trost's acclaimed book, and a donation to help the the What If? Foundation was presented to Mrs. Trost, thanks to the generosity of a SNJM Charism Grant.

Hava Ben-Zvi

Ramona Convent Secondary School welcomed author and Holocaust survivor Hava Ben-Zvi

Students learned the story behind her memoir Eva's Journey: A Young Girl's True Story and about Eva Bromberg… a courageous young girl who escaped death and discovery by the Nazis while on her own for four years in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

Author and Holocaust survivor Hava Ben-Zvi is Eva Bromberg


Ed Begley, Jr.

Author, Emmy-nominated actor, and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. shared his insights and books on the subjects of sustainability, environmentalism, and conservation.

Following his informative and impassioned presentation, students, teachers, parents, and community members had the opportunity to meet Mr. Begley and to have their books (Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life and Ed Begley, Jr.'s Guide to Sustainable Living) signed by the author.

Members of the Ramona Roses and the Book Club surprised Mr. Begley by leading the entire audience in singing and wishing him a Happy Birthday!

Mitali Perkins

Ramona had the pleasure of welcoming acclaimed multicultural writer Mitali Perkins who focused on the theme of "living between cultures."

"After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, I taught in middle school, high school and college. When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures."

Mitali Perkins' stories of her immigrant background and the role that family, friendship, and fortitude played in her personal story resonated with many. She encouraged students to keep reading and learning; to write their own stories; and, to share their voice, their words, and their talents.

Members of the Book Club discussed Secret Keeper over a delicious lunch of vegetable samosas, chicken curry with basmati rice, and naan. Group members also wrote and shared how they envisioned the lives of the main characters 20 years later. What do you think happened to Asha, Reet, and Jay?

Melissa de la Cruz

New York Times best-selling author of books such as the popular Blue Bloods and The Descendants series, The Ashleys, and the Au Pairs, Melissa de la Cruz, visited Ramona and shared stories of being a private, all-girl school student and of her journey to becoming a popular YA author.

Cynthia Kadohata

Newbery Award winner Cynthia Kadohata spoke of her resilience and determination to become a renowned, award-winning author.

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