Brenda Bravo ’10 B.A. Liberal Studies, ’10 B.A. Spanish; ’18 M.A. Educational Leadership and
Dual P-12 Credential Concentration

Brenda Bravoby Pamela Dean

Brenda Bravo’s fierce determination to succeed helped her overcome the many obstacles she faced during her journey to higher education and a successful career as a high school principal.

Born in Mexico, the fifth of six daughters, Bravo’s family came to the U.S. when she was three, eventually settling in Oxnard. Neither one of her parents graduated from high school, or even elementary school. In spite of the challenges of being a teen mom, she earned a 4.0 GPA in high school, graduated with honors and went on to become the first in her family to attend a four-year university.

Bravo’s path through CSUCI was not easy either. Her second daughter was born while she was a freshman. But having two small children to care for did not stop her from double majoring in Spanish and Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. In 2010 she graduated magna cum laude.

“Attending CSUCI was one of the best decisions I ever made because it’s where I met my mentors, Dr. Kaia Tollefson, Dr. Kathleen Contreras, Dr. Charles Weiss and others who have been my inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward,” Bravo explained.

In fact, Bravo credits Education Professor Tollefson with inspiring her to pursue a graduate degree and move from teacher to administrator.

“Growing up I did not see myself reflected in the leaders at my school, so becoming an administrator was never in my plans,” Bravo said.

While working as a fourth grade teacher at Oxnard’s Tierra Vista Elementary, she was invited to attend CSUCI’s Critical Friends Group summer institute led by Professor Tollefson. It was there she realized she could aspire to do more.

“I learned about the education gap, equity issues and the need for more Latina leaders in education,” Bravo explained. “We discussed the need for a mentorship program to support young teachers and match them with educational leaders in the county. This is where CSUCI’s  Lacayo Vista Leadership Academy was born. I was part of the first cohort of mentees. Kaia was the first to believe I could do more.”

After this class, she decided to pursue a graduate degree. However, another potential roadblock threw itself into her path. Just one week before being accepted into CSUCI’s Educational Leadership master’s program, Bravo discovered she was expecting her third daughter.

With the full support of the program’s faculty, she was able to begin and complete the program on time, graduating in 2018 with an M.A. in Educational Leadership along with a dual P-12 Credential Concentration. She is now the proud principal of Rio Plaza Elementary in Oxnard. 

Bravo has recently joined the University’s Alumni & Friends Board and says she looks forward to giving back to CSUCI and collaborating with other board members.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to serve on the CSUCI Alumni and Friends Board. CSUCI is my home, it’s where I learned about social justice, equity and compassion. The University serves my community and serves as a safe place for first generation college students like myself. I am excited to be able to give back and continue to promote higher education in Ventura County. When I was asked if I was interested in joining, I cried because I knew that I would be making my parents and my three daughters proud.”

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© Fall 2020 / Volume 25 / Number 2 / Biannual

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