Esmeralda Santiago was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1948. She lived a poor life in Puerto Rico for about 13 years before her mother decided to move Santiago and her seven younger siblings to Brooklyn, New York in 1961, in hopes of a better life. When the family arrived in Brooklyn they did not know English, but nonetheless, Santiago's mother managed to find a job. The job was not anything permanent and the instability of the job market forced her proud mother to seek welfare from time to time when work was not available for her. Santiago's childhood was filled with frequent visits to the welfare office where she acted as a translator for her mother.
Santiago learned English quickly and was accepted into New York's Performing Arts High School, where she studied acting. Upon graduation she worked both part time and full time jobs and attended community college until she gained acceptance into Harvard University with a full scholarship. She graduated in 1976 Magna cum laude and left for Bayamón, Puerto Rico with her degree and could only find a job as a typist getting paid a mere $3 an hour. Frustrated with her experiences in Puerto Rico at the time, Santiago came back to the U.S. She later received a degree for Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 1992. She also acquired an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.
Santiago's success goes beyond that of her education. She owns a film production company called Cantomedia, with her husband Frank Cantor. She has written for several periodicals, including The New York Times and The Boston Globe. In 1993, she published her first book, "When I Was Puerto Rican". The book was full of stories and memories of her childhood and became an instant success. Her second book, "America's Dream" (1996) was a work of fiction about a woman, named America, who moves to New York City from Puerto Rico to escape from her life in the island. In 1999, Santiago wrote her second memoir, "Almost A Woman", which spoke about her path toward becoming a woman and the difficulties she faced on that journey. Santiago is also a poet, a novelist, and an editor.
Santiago has also been active within the community and helped in opening a youth center and a shelter for battered women in Massachusetts. Currently, Santiago lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and two children.
December 19, 2017 <http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/jessemoli/Santiago.bio.html>