Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Creative Writing

First Advisor

Dr. Jean Braithwaite

Second Advisor

Dr. Lilia Cabrera

Third Advisor

Dr. Britt Haraway


Growing Up Butchona on the Border is a queer, Latina memoir that takes place on the Texas-Mexico border. This thesis is a journey in words and pictures that spans throughout an immigration crisis, a worldwide pandemic and the fallout that follows a world-wide lockdown; eventually leading down the rocky road to self-discovery. The thesis opens with a fictional account of Torita Torcida, a seven-year-old Honduran immigrant that makes her way across the Texas-Mexico border with her mother only to be ripped away from her when the truck they were smuggled in is seized by border patrol. Images and words come together to tell the story of Torita's struggles on the border and then pick back up thirty years into the future where Torita now goes by Torcida and finds herself in more elaborate predicaments.

At the outset, there was a clear vision of what the focus should be, immigration. The first part of this thesis was written during a border crisis when it was necessary to tell the story of countless refugees and the repercussions stemming from their encounters with border officials. The fever pitch with which the thesis was written was made easy by watching the crisis unfold on television, social media, and informed by journal articles; it essentially wrote itself. The images were drawing themselves and confidence that the thesis would be a successful account of the immigration/ border crisis was all but guaranteed. Feedback from workshop peers was incredibly positive and it was clear that Torcida had the potential to be published as a fullfledged comic book. The future was bright and the possibilities endless.

It was then that the world went on lockdown with the news that a worldwide pandemic (Covid- 19) was taking the world hostage and humanity would be forever changed. During lockdown a shift took place, and the theme of the thesis took its first of a few turns. Challenges regarding inspiration amid the pandemic began to dwindle. As a result of the pandemic mental health began to breakdown and people began to use different coping mechanisms to deal with a ‘new normal’. The normalization of daily drinking and substance abuse became commonplace; it is here that the lens is turned onto the author and the realization that she is twisted, she is Torcida. The thesis concludes after her subsequent recovery and the experience of becoming a foster parent to her infant grandson where she sets out to uncover the roots of her demons by returning to the beginning, her upbringing on the Texas-Mexico border.


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