Gloria M. Aznar will never forget the rats. As a child growing up in the dismal, hope-snuffing South Bronx, where poverty was everywhere, she kept vigil through the night on the living room sofa rather than sleep in her bed.
“I was so terrified of these rats,” she says. “To me they were the size of cats. That’s how big they looked to me.
“You have to live it to understand it.”
The harrowing experience was one of many memories that washed over her as the 59-year-old nursing sophomore at Alvernia University read Jonathan Kozol’s "Amazing Grace." The New York Times best-selling book from 1995 is required for 2012-13 First Year Seminar as well as other courses. It chronicles in unvarnished, heart-wrenching detail the lives of children and their families who lived in Mott Haven, a South Bronx neighborhood in the poorest congressional district in America.
“This was my life,” says Aznar.