Author Safia Ortega

Dream Come True

Safia Ortega ’17 turned her daughter’s nightmares into a dream come true.

To combat the then two-year-old’s nightmares, Ortega initiated bedtime conversations about things that made her daughter happy.

“I would ask her, ‘what do you want to dream about tonight?’ She’d answer ‘Mama’ and ‘cupcakes, rainbows and unicorns.’ We said this every night along with our prayers,” Ortega recalls.

Ortega made a promise: she would make a book to ensure her daughter drifted off to sleep with happy thoughts in her head. Ortega wrote a story and drew the pictures. It wasn’t until she came to Alverno to complete her bachelor’s degree that she realized she had what it takes to turn her dream of becoming an author into reality.

“I remember a professor encouraging us to make time for the things that we are good at. I made a list of things I enjoy doing — drawing, art, writing and working with children — and saw that creating this book for my daughter was a way to combine them. It inspired me to light that fire again.”

After graduating from Alverno, she devoted the time that she would have been in class or doing homework to working on the book. Ortega published the book (called, of course, “Cupcakes, Rainbows and Unicorns“) this past May.

“I’m just so happy,” Ortega exclaims. “It feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders, something I didn’t even know I was carrying around. I did it!”

Ortega’s daughter, now 7, was also proud. “She carried it around everywhere, she brought it to school. It was really her. She essentially named this book. It’s her imagination that I just made into a book.”

Ortega continues to spread the word about her book, and she is proud that Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, where she works as a computer teacher, has added the book to its library. Next up, she’ll work on creating a book for her son, age 3. “He’s asked me, ‘where’s my book?’” she laughs.

While Ortega simply sought to make her daughter happy and achieve one of her dreams, she’s pleased and gratified that the book has become a source of inspiration for others.

“All my students brought in their copies of the book for me to sign it. That’s my favorite part — seeing them so happy and proud that they know the author. Parents are grateful for showing the kids that they can do whatever they want when they grow up.”

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