Bestselling author Erika L. Sánchez answers questions posed by Warrior Student Media's Cooper Ten Bruin on Feb. 7

Bestselling author and DePaul University professor Erika L. Sánchez told McHenry Community High School students to tune out the doubts – and doubters – especially when pursuing their passions.

Sánchez, whose award-winning “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” struck a chord with so many like her, brought a message of resilience and resolve during an all-day visit Feb. 7 as part of the school’s annual Writers Week celebration.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants who admittedly struggled with becoming her true self, Sánchez told students it took her a while to learn that going along with everyone else isn’t all it is cracked up to be.

“I’ve been doubted so many times but here I am,” Sánchez said. “I wish I would have known that when I was younger – that being liked is a trap. It doesn’t amount to anything.”

Sánchez said her books and stories are typically a combination of her own experiences mixed in with a little imagination. As an author, she tries to write stories that would have helped her when she was younger. As a professor, Sánchez said she is glad to be able to share the stories of typically marginalized groups who may not see themselves reflected in society.

Otto Corzo, Spanish and Heritage instructor, said his students appreciated learning from Sánchez and seeing their own lives reflected in her stories. He said many of his former students have reached out to him, too, to let him know that Sánchez’s book “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” meant so much to them.

"Having Erika L. Sánchez at MCHS has provided many Latinx students with the much-needed representation and validation that their experience and their voice have value,” said Corzo, who also advises the school’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO).

Sánchez told students it has been an exciting experience to see her bestselling book adapted into a play and movie. She said she expects the movie to be released in a few years.

The visit was part of a weeklong Writers Week that also included Celebration of Words performances, a Poetry Slam for sophomores, singer-songwriter performances and interactive activities for all students.