Press Release, Student Life, Global

April 3, 2017 | By Ohio Wesleyan University

Sonia Manzano, Sesame Street's Maria

‘Sesame Street’ Star, Pulse Shooting Survivor to Share Their Stories

Both to Speak at Summit of Ohio Latinx Conference April 21-22 at Ohio Wesleyan University

DELAWARE, Ohio – Sonia Manzano, who portrayed Maria on TV’s “Sesame Street” for 44 years, and Angel Colon, a survivor of the June 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, will speak at Ohio Wesleyan University this month as part of the Summit of Ohio Latinx (SOL) Conference.

Manzano will speak at 7 p.m. April 21 in the atrium of Schimmel/Conrades Science Center, 90 S. Henry St., Delaware. Colon will speak at 1 p.m. April 22 in Room 301 of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

Manzano will share her life story, growing up in a poor Puerto Rican family and becoming one of the most influential Latinas in television through her role on PBS’s “Sesame Street.” After her presentation, she will sign copies of her autobiography, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx,” and her children’s books, which will be available for purchase at the event.

Angel Colon, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor.jpg
Angel Colon, Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor

Throughout the years, Manzano has earned 15 Emmy awards for writing television scripts and received other awards including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Daytime Emmy Awards.

Colon, a member of both the Hispanic and LGBTQ communities, will share his life story, including the night he was shot six times in his leg, side, and hand during the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. The shooting – the deadliest in U.S. history – killed 49 people and left 53 wounded. Colon will discuss the importance of embracing diversity, respecting people’s differences, and rising above in times of trouble.

As a survivor, he is now working with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and traveling around the nation discussing topics such as gun violence and minority issues.

“One minute I was having fun and the next, I was shot multiple times and fighting for my life,” Colon told People Magazine. “I was shot by a man who never should have had a gun. … I’m just grateful to be here. It’s basically a second chance in life. I’m doing anything I can, and helping others as much as I can. I can share my message and my story and try to change the world.”

Learn more about Manzano at and more about Colon at

The Summit of Ohio Latinx (SOL) Conference was created in 2016 to bring together Latinx college students and their allies from around the state to discuss academic, social, economic, educational, and political topics impacting the Latinx population. Learn more at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at