One Community/One Book selection tells story of migrant farm worker family

Author of “Barefoot Heart” to speak in February at San Antonio Public Library, UT Health Science Center

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 9, 2012) — “Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child,” a memoir deeply rooted in South Texas, is the 2012 One Community/One Book selection of the San Antonio Public Library and the UT Health Science Center Libraries.

In the book, author Elva Treviño Hart describes growing up as the youngest of six children in a family of migrant farm workers. Her home was Pearsall, Texas, but the family worked beet fields in Wisconsin and Minnesota many summers during the 1950s as it struggled to make a living.

“My whole childhood, I never had a bed,” Hart’s story begins. It traces her journey from rural South Texas and the beet farms of the Upper Midwest to the graceful campus of Stanford University and, eventually, corporate America.

The book vividly details the deprivation and discrimination faced by the Treviños, along with their joys, triumphs and everyday life. Hart went on to earn degrees in theoretical mathematics and computer science/engineering, which allowed her to make more money than she had ever dreamed possible. Still, she felt out of place, and she ultimately left the corporate world and used writing to bridge her past and present.

The book was chosen for its relevance to the South Texas Medical Center and the broader San Antonio community. Many San Antonians are familiar with the backdrop, language and culture depicted in “Barefoot Heart,” and some have their own stories of working in the fields.

“Community partnerships are essential to the success of the San Antonio Public Library, and for that reason we are excited to be working with the UT Health Science Center Libraries to present this story of the success of a South Texas migrant worker child,” said Ramiro Salazar, director of the San Antonio Public Library. “Ms. Hart’s chronicle of her family’s journey through the fields of America, and her own struggle to receive an education, will resonate with many in our community.”

At the UT Health Science Center, where providing culturally proficient health care is part of the mission, “Barefoot Heart” is a pointed reminder of the obstacles that some patients face. It also is a celebration of the equalizing effect of education, notably in math and science.

“The story of Ms. Hart clearly points out that mathematics and science have answers that are objective – unlike drawing a picture, writing an essay or playing an instrument, students either have correct answers, or they don’t,” said Michael Lichtenstein, M.D., M.Sc., a geriatrician in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center, who recommended “Barefoot Heart” for One Community/One Book.

“Therefore,” he continued, “when students are evaluated in math and science, their success is based solely on merit and mastery. Subtleties and subjective biases are less likely to creep into measurement of their academic performance – they can’t be marked down on the basis of skin color. Ms. Hart used her success in math and science to overcome socioeconomic hurdles, advance to college and graduate education, and rise out of poverty.”

The San Antonio community is encouraged to read the book and attend discussions held in January and February. Details are available or (Keyword: “Barefoot Heart.”)

Hart will make appearances in San Antonio in February, including one at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, at San Antonio’s Central Library (600 Soledad), and another at noon on Friday, Feb. 24, at the UT Health Science Center’s Holly Auditorium (7703 Floyd Curl Drive). Both events are free and open to the public.

In addition to the San Antonio Public Library and the UT Health Science Center Libraries, “One Community/One Book” is supported by the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics and the Academic Center for Excellence in Teaching, both at the UT Health Science Center. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the San Antonio Public Library: For more than 100 years, the award-winning San Antonio Public Library has been a vital center for free learning, knowledge, communication, culture and enjoyment for the whole community. With a world-class Central Library, branch libraries throughout the city, and outstanding online resources, the San Antonio Public Library is as close as around the corner or the nearest computer. For more information, visit

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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