Xochitl Gonzalez, class of 1999


In this interview, Xochitl Gonzalez, Brown University class of 1999, shares her memories of her time on campus on the eve of her 25th reunion.

Gonzalez begins by discussing her childhood. She describes growing up in a working class Brooklyn neighborhood and being raised by her maternal grandparents. She explains that her mother, Andrea Gonzalez, who was the Vice Presidential nominee on the Socialist Workers Party ticket in 1984, was largely absent from her life. As a result, Xochitl identifies as a first generation Puerto Rican-American college graduate.

Gonzalez talks about choosing to attend Brown because of Providence’s atmosphere, the open curriculum, and the University’s lack of focus on athletics. At the time she was admitted to Brown, she remembers experiencing racism at her high school as peers suggested she was not qualified to attend an Ivy-league university. This experience impacted her decision to participate in Brown’s Third World Transition Program when she first arrived on campus, though Gonzalez shares mixed feelings about that program overall. She also recalls the lack of racial and class diversity on campus and describes finding community with roommates and minority peers.

Gonzelez openly shares some traumatic memories of her time on campus. One incident occurred when Gonzalez reported an issue with a fellow dorm member to a peer counselor, which resulted not in support for Gonzalez but rather threats against her. This experience also contributed to Gonzalez developing a severe eating disorder. Later in the interview, Gonzalez also discusses her reaction to the Adam Lack case – a topic that became a national controversy in 1996 when a female student alleged that she was raped by a male student, Adam Lack, at a fraternity party.

Among some of her happier memories, Gonzalez talks about serving as a minority peer counselor and perhaps the first Latina class president. She also emphasizes how much she learned from and enjoyed her art history courses and study abroad experience.

In later years, Gonzalez served on the President’s Leadership Council at Brown University and has most recently served as a trustee for the Corporation. Of her time as a student at Brown, she states that, “We were invited to the table, but nobody gave us forks and knives.” Through her continued work with the University, she explains that she hopes to be a voice who can change that experience for current and future students.


Recorded on March 26, 2024 on Zoom
Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Pembroke Center Assistant Archivist, and Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ‘65 LLD’94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Xochitl Gonzalez, class of 1999. Interview. By Amanda Knox and Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. March 26, 2024.


Xochitl Gonzalez is a cultural critic, producer, screenwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming. Named a Best of 2022 by The New York Times, TIME, Kirkus, Washington Post, and NPR, Olga Dies Dreaming was the winner of the Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize in Fiction and the New York City Book Awards. A Reese’s Book Club Pick, her new novel, Anita de Monte Laughs Last, was published on March 2024 with Flatiron Books. Gonzalez is a 2021 M.F.A. graduate from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her non-fiction work has been published in Elle Decor, Allure, Vogue, Real Simple, and The Cut. As a staff writer for The Atlantic, she was recognized as a 2023 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary.

Prior to writing, Gonzalez was an entrepreneur, fundraiser, and all-around hustler for nearly 20 years. She is a board member of the Lower East Side Girls Club and the Brooklyn Public Library, and a trustee of the corporation of Brown University, where she received her A.B. in Visual Art in 1999. A native Brooklynite and proud public school graduate, she lives in her hometown of Brooklyn with her dog, Hectah Lavoe.

Copied from https://www.xochitlgonzalez.com/about-bio in 2024.