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Volume 64, Issue 2

January 29, 2010

Author Helen Thorpe to visit

The author of a critically acclaimed book that traces the lives of four Mexican girls living in Denver will have a book signing and lead a discussion beginning at 5 p.m. Feb. 3 at the University Center Theater.

Helen Thorpe, a journalist and author of Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, will visit UCCS at the invitation of the Department of Women’s and Ethnic Studies and the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion based at the university.

“Helen Thorpe is an amazing and accomplished writer who tells the story of four young women from Mexico,” Abby Ferber, professor, Women’s and Ethnic Studies, said. “Two of the women have legal documentation, two do not. The story of their lives is a personal illustration of the challenges facing girls growing up in the U.S. today and the impact of our national immigration policy on real people’s lives.”

Called a “Best Book of 2009” by the Washington Post, Thorpe uses in-depth journalism to peek into the subculture of Mexican immigrants. She traces the lives of four Denver girls beginning on the eve of their senior prom and the opportunities ahead.

“No matter what one’s opinions are about immigration, “Just Like Us” offers fascinating insight into one of America’s most complicated social issues today,” reads the book’s promotional jacket. “The girls, their families, those who welcome them, and those who object to their presence all must grapple with the same deep dilemma: Who is an American? Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?”

Thorpe is a freelance journalist whose magazine stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, New York magazine, Texas Monthly, Westword, and 5280.

Born in London, she grew up in Medford, New Jersey, and earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Princeton University and a master’s from Columbia University. She worked for The New York Observer, The New Yorker, and Texas Monthly. She was hired by Walt Disney movie studio to report on the murder of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin and a film based on that treatment was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Joel Schumacher. She has also produced several radio stories, including a short piece that aired on This American Life and a half-hour radio documentary that aired on KGNU and Soundprint.

Thorpe is married to John Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, and they have one son. She currently serves on the boards of two non-profit organizations that focus on ensuring the success of all children, particularly those who are growing up in poverty. Just Like Us is her first book.

The signing and discussion event are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Department of Women’s and Ethnic Studies, 255-4553. For more about Thorpe, visit

Communique is the online newsletter for UCCS faculty and staff. It is published weekly during the fall and spring semesters, monthly during the summer semester. Communique is sent to faculty and staff e-mail lists and, by request, to other e-mail addresses. Previous issues are available in the Communique Archives at, and the current issue is always at Suggestions and comments are welcome. Send ideas to or call Tom Hutton, 255-3439.

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