Dr. Carmen Nava: A Role Model for All Young Women


Gayana Parsegova, Staff Writer


As a full time mother, and the founder of the Children’s Museum in San Diego, Department Chair of History, Dr. Carmen Nava, serves as a role model for all women to strive to achieve a higher education.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nava attended CSU Northridge for her undergraduate studies, where she received her BA in history. In order to fulfill her dream of becoming a professor in higher education, she then went on to pursue her Doctorate at UCLA. She focused on history, with an emphasis on Latin American studies.

Dr. Nava has been teaching at CSUSM for almost 20 years, and was awarded this year with “The President’s Award for Service Leadership” for her dedication to not only the History Department, but for directing the Faculty Center for seven years and involving herself in the community by helping establish The Children’s Museum in San Diego.

“I’m very passionate about education and I strongly believe [that] it starts with early childhood; establishing a child’s foundation in education will help them to be motivated students as they get older,” said Nava.

Although Nava is a second generation graduate student and was raised within an atmosphere of education, she still faced challenges along her path to receiving her Ph.D. Finding herself to be one of the few women within the History Department while pursuing grad school, Nava felt overwhelmed, especially because she was married and pregnant (she gave birth to two children during her years in grad school).

However, the fact that she was a mother and a wife, and that she was in a field dominated by males, pushed her to overcome the trials and tribulations of being a woman.

“When I had entered graduate school, it was an intense competition that tested you intellectually, emotionally and interpersonally. You withdraw from society and eventually become a monk. It was essentially a trial by fire process, and I had met a few men and women who went through it and realized they couldn’t handle it. For me, I realized this is exactly what I wanted,” she said.

Dr. Nava advocates for women, especially women of color, to receive a higher education.

“Education is the key to success. Women in high school can choose to focus on their studies or to excel and learn more, not because they are forced to, but because they want to. It’s a choice that young women are given.”

Dr. Nava’s higher education gave her the opportunity to live in Spain for a year and reconnect with her roots, as well as study and speak her native language.

Education is the process of learning and expanding. Improve yourself, and inform yourself of who you are and who you want to be. I want to expand my students worlds, especially young women’s, and help them to understand that the process and journey of learning is neverending. There is always so much more we can know.”