Thomas Ray Garcia, mentor to STC graduate and Yale senior Victoria Quintanilla, and his partner, Matt Eventoff, are working on a children’s book project on public speaking. The first book, Speechless, is currently in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and they are working to publish their second book and have the series in more languages. The goal of this book series is to provide books completely free to children and make these books as accessible as possible. Moreover, helping children get over their fear of public speaking and eventually adding characters in this book series reflective of their heritage and in a language they speak with loved ones at home, also drives this project.

In Speechless, eight-year-old Amelia Martinez is terrified to deliver a speech at the Grand Oratory. However,

when the intolerant Mr. Rhetorick steals the village’s voices, Amelia must use her public speaking skills to save Voz from eternal silence. On her quest, Amelia gains confidence at every turn, from speaking to forest animals to finding her own voice. Speechless combines the fantastical and pragmatic in a tale that inspires children to stand up and speak!

Garcia is a writer and poet from Pharr, Texas. At Princeton University, he received the Ward Mathis Short Story Prize for his U.S.-Mexico borderlands fiction. He is a Gates Millennium Scholar and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow whose research focuses on mobility in American Literature. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the College Scholarship Leadership Access Program (CSLAP), which hosts college access events and provides near-peer mentorship to students in the Rio Grande Valley.

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