Sonia Manzano of Sesame Street fame smiling

Sonia Manzano

She is a person you meet when you are walking down the street. The 44-year Sesame Street veteran, Sonia Manzano is set to speak at the fall 2017 Latino Cultural Dinner at 5 p.m. Thursday, October 26, in the Brown Ballroom at the Bone Student Center.

Tickets for the event will be on sale from September 18-October 19 and can be purchased online at Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for the event.

Manzano is best known for her time as “Maria” on the popular PBS series Sesame Street, but has continued her career as an author, off-Broadway performer, and television writer.

In her time as a children’s book author, Manzano published three books, while also producing The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, a fictional work based on her early life, and Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, a memoir that was named as one of the New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2015, and one of the Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2015.

The South Bronx native began her acting career in New York as the star of the off-Broadway production of Godspell before beginning her work on Sesame Street. She has also appeared on the stage in The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated, and Love Loss and What I Wore.

As a writer for television, Manzano worked for the Peabody Award-winning children’s series Little Bill, a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop website, and storylines on Sesame Street including “Maria’s marriage,” and the birth of “Maria’s baby.”

With all of these accomplishments, in 2016 Manzano was the recipient of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy’s. Her accolades do not stop there as she won 15 Emmy Awards as a writer for Sesame Street, the Hispanic Heritage Award of Education, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, and named among the 25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever by Latina Magazine.

The fall 2017 Latino Cultural Dinner celebrates Latino culture with authentic food, music, and tradition. The evening is highlighted by a speech from Manzano. Music for the evening will be provided by vocalist Stacie Sandoval, who will be accompanied by Orquesta Bravo.

This event is by University Housing Services in cooperation with Association of Residence Halls, Event Management, Dining and Hospitality, Watterson Area Government, Watterson Diversity Coalition, Latin America and Latino/a Studies, and MECCPAC–A Dean of Students Office Diversity Initiative.

If special accommodations are needed to fully participate in this program, please contact Leslie Green at (309) 438-5967. Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.

For more information on Sonia Manzano visit

Find more information on Cultural Dinners here.