Krisna Esquivel Rodriguez (Class of 2023)

Job title: 
NAVCAL Alumni, NAVCAL Mentor, NAV2CAL Mentor, N2C Research Director

From Krisna himself

Who I am:

My name is Krisna Esquivel and I am a recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a BA in Chicano Studies and minor in Education. I have become a part of multiple communities on Berkeley's campus such as EOP, DSP, NAVCAL, NAV2CAL, Lambda Theta Phi, and Latinx Caucus. Additionally, I am also a Fiat Lux and McNair scholar with the goal of pursuing Graduate School in the field of Education. 

Where I'm from:

Growing up in Richmond, Ca. my parents had no other option but to send me to the local public schools. As the firstborn to immigrant parents, I have been forced to mature and adapt to different environments from a very young age. With Spanish as my first language, for example, I had to overcome the overwhelming anxiety that drowned my thoughts as I was asked to read the unfamiliar words written in English. At home, my parents worried about covering rent for the month, putting food on the table, and occasionally helping me out with my math homework when they could. It was up until about 5th grade when the limited education they received growing up stopped being of much assistance. As for anything in English, which you can imagine was everything ever assigned throughout my education in public schools; there were countless words, assignments, situations, and more that I had to figure out on my own. Therefore, with English as a language barrier for my entire family, I became a translater interpreting the world around me with fear and frustration, but more importantly, resilience. A resilience that would begin to moderate my anxieties when navigating new environments. A resilience that was built by each important document I translated for my parents. It's this very same resilience that has taught me to use my experiences, knowledge, and network to support me through anything. I believe this is the reason why I gravitate to the NavCal fellowship so much because NavCal fundamentally supports the growth of marginalized students in becoming more resilient scholars on Cal's campus.

Where I'm at now:

First being a mentee myself, and then stepping up to become a mentor with NAVCAL allowed me to support newly admitted first-year students from my community throughout the difficult and challenging times of quarantine. Working around the limitation brought upon by the pandemic, I had the opportunity to guide students (some who had not yet even stepped foot on campus) in accessing resources across the university. Resources, information, and support which thanks to NAVCAL contributed to the retention of a more diverse undergraduate campus community during times of hardship. My involvement with NAVCAL gave inspiration to the current summer research I am conducting under the Ronald E. McNair Scholars research program at UC Berkeley. Throughout my time as a mentor during the virtual learning environment, questions of accessibility (to a stable internet connection, a functional computer/laptop, and more) were frequently brought to mind. As a person who loves the outdoors, adapting to virtual learning and following stay-at-home orders was difficult when struggling with mental health and feeling isolated. Thankfully, I was able to rely on NavCal who introduced me to the Disabled Students Program (DSP). Overcoming my hesitations to apply for DSP by learning how to combat my internalized cultural stigma around mental health granted me access to a therapist, course accommodations, and more. All of which further ensured that my ability to mentor students would be well rounded and equipped with the full support of the greater NAVCAL community (NAVCAL instructors/facilitators and mentors, along with identified NAVCAL campus allies such; professors, academic/financial advisors, program leads, etc.). Becoming a part of NAVCAL drastically enhanced the academic support and accessibility as a first-generation Latino navigating my academics throughout the pandemic.

In thinking about my family in Richmond and considering the education of my younger sister, my parents would communicate the uncertainty behind how the Richmond school would adjust. Which brought me to recognize my privilege as a student at the number one public university. Ultimately bringing me to question how the experience of students from my community underwent a completely new generation of schooling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Thus, formulating my research question for my summer as a McNair Scholar: How has the accessibility and quality of academic resources changed for Black and Latinx students who graduated during the pandemic (summers of 2020 and 2021) from Richmond, CA., public high schools? 

Where I want to go:

As a first-generation low-income student going into my 4th year at Cal, my ambitions are to strive for my master's from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley. Becoming a teacher who identifies as Latinx will be my first step in supporting the academic growth of future generation Black Indigenous Students OF Color (BISOC). With a Ph.D. in Education, I seek to become a professor at a university where I wish to bring to life my ambition of utilizing technology to help bridge a better understanding between one another; by overcoming language barriers with accessibility to smartphones, mobile apps, the internet, and artificial intelligence. 

As I have learned to rely on my smartphone to navigate, learn about, and explore the world around me with the help of multiple mobile applications such as google maps, google calendar, chrome, and so many more. Especially when language was the barrier inciting fear and anxiety as I navigated unfamiliar environments, I could rely on my phone to get me home. Leading me to think about how technology has been used within public schools across the country (throughout the pandemic's virtual learning environment and prior), and thus I ponder about how to refine the resources, support, and curriculum for a new age of public education and technology.   


  • Fiat lux Scholar Recipient
  • Ronald E. McNair Scholar Recipient 
  • Richmond Promise Scholar Recipient
  • West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) ED Fund - Scully Foundation Scholarship Recipient
  • Students Rising Above SOAR Scholar Recipient
  • George Douglass Scholarship Recipient
  • Estha M. Rodkey Scholarship Recipient
  • Greek Latinx organization on Campus: Lambda Theta Phi