carolyn rodriguez

Carolyn Rodriguez

Graduate Student

UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

Pronouns: She/her

Carolyn is an Indigenous scholar and member of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. Her Tribal community is the California indigenous peoples of south-San Francisco and north-Monterey Bay area, enslaved at missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz. Surviving three periods of colonization, Carolyn’s community upholds tribal sovereignty as a non-federally recognized tribe while revitalizing cultural traditions like land and water stewardship.

Carolyn is a first-generation college student. She attended Fresno Community College after high school. In 2010, Carolyn transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature. At UCSC, she became active as a Lead Student Programmer for the UCSC American Indian Resource Center. In addition, she worked to uplift Native student representation on campus through community-building activities and zero-waste events. 

After graduating in 2012, Carolyn worked at the UCSC Educational Opportunity Programs office, serving first-generation college students by providing office and budgetary management, student resources, and mentorship. Working in the position for five years encouraged her to seek out graduate school to learn more about educational equity for Indigenous college students. In 2021, she received her Master’s from UCLA in American Indian Studies. Her thesis tied together (or interweaved) her interest in oral history, storytelling, and academic achievement for California Native American college students. She finds strength in breaking down educational barriers while striving to be a role model for my community.

She is a third-year PhD student in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Social Research Methodology program. Her research highlights the importance of Indigenous science, indigenous knowledge systems, and community-based, culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum. She is also interested in examining tribal-university relationships and how the Amah Mutsun community uses research as a tool for tribal sovereignty and cultural revitalization. 

Carolyn also works with Amah Mutsun youth to create a space to learn their cultural knowledge and strengthen their Native identities. She supports Tribal youth’s academic success and interest in STEM while mentoring them in social and environmental justice activism to protect the land, water, all more-than-human beings, and sacred sites.