Driven by a quest for self, author and activist Stephanie Griest wrote extensively about lessons learned from her exotic travels.

Speaking to a crowded room at Johnston Hall on Wednesday night, Griest recounted her unique travels and time as a journalist.

Griest has written three critically-acclaimed books, "Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow", "Beijing, and Havana", "Mexican Enough" and "All the Agents and Saints".

Griest recounted that when she was a high school senior in south Texas, a global CNN correspondent told her that if she wanted a career as a journalist, she should learn Russian. Four years later, Griest spent a semester in Moscow beginning a four-year period of travel.

"I think her story is an important one," said freshman Alexandra Smith. "She's seen so much of the world and we could all learn from her.”

Griest's first book "Around the Bloc" took 10 years to write, and shows her experience living and working in Moscow, Beijing and Havana.

Though raised in Southern Texas, Griest never learned Spanish because of the discrimination her mother faced. She has spent her life trying to understand her bicultural identity by exploring the world and writing about it.

Griest moved to Mexico for a year when she was was 30 years old to establish a deeper connection to her ancestry. Her time in Mexico led her to write her second book "Mexican Enough" detailing the political and identity crises facing many Mexican people.

Her newest book "All the Agents and Saints" is a continuation of this reflection on identity and the borderlands.

Freshman Caren Aveldanez was one of many students impacted by Griest’s lecture.

"This talk for me was just really inspirational," Aveldanez said.  "She has an amazing life story and she really inspired me to want to make my time here truly worth something."