Esperanza Bernal (February 2023)

Esperanza Bernal (she/her/ella), Director of Community College Transfer Services & Transfer Alliance Project (CCTS/TAP)Photo of a smiling person with shoulder-length dark hair from the waist up in front of a fountain with sculptures.

What does your program, unit, or division do on campus?

CCTS/TAP is an outreach and advising organization that supports and advocates for access to higher education for traditionally excluded and underrepresented transfer students.

Describe your job in five words:

Fulfilling / Challenging / Complex / Student-Centered / Grounding 

Why Berkeley?

I’m a product of Berkeley. At the core of what I do, I identify myself in the struggle and stories of our transfer student experience. I aim to remove those barriers and create a clear path for others to be able to access their educational goals at Berkeley. My experience as an undergraduate at Berkeley laid the foundations of my professional experience and goals. I hope to be a bridge that allows as many first-gen, low ses, students of color, veterans, and other traditionally excluded and underserved populations the experience of what it means to be a student at Berkeley. 

Over your career, what are some of the things that have helped you move to the next level and to new opportunities?

My community! I started as a student peer adviser in the Transfer Center where I was able to get so many resources and femtorship from Lorena Valdez. Shout out to Lorena!!! I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some great mentors and femtors that have contributed to my success. Whether it’s been through conversations when I was doubting myself or by them nudging me to apply for “that” position. I can say that it’s definitely been my village behind me that has been crucial to my career and my personal well-being. 

What is the best advice a mentor has given you in work, life, or beyond?

To trust in myself and the decisions I make as a new leader. To ground myself in my “Why” and continue to break down barriers that our students face. Also, to take time for myself, disconnect from time to time, and continue to find joy in the work. 

What motivates you to do your best work?

Knowing that I can have a positive impact on students’ lives. I see myself as a bridge and an advocate. I think it is important for those that are in positions of leadership to continue to question whether the current practices and policies we uphold are for the benefit of the students. If not, we should work to remove those barriers from our students paths.

What is the weirdest job you've ever had?

I don’t know about weird but I was in the U.S. Navy for 4 years after high school and most folx don’t know that I was a F/A-18 Hornet ejection seat mechanic and deployed on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

What is an interesting or little-known fact about you?

In my mid-40s, I’m a HUGE fan of BTS. I’m a proud BTS Army member. LOL

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Continuing to grow professionally and personally.