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Dr. Jenell Navarro

Moments from the professor's life that got her to where she is today.


  1. "I can’t say I set out as a child to be a professor," Dr. Navarro said. "I never saw that as a possibility for myself."
  2. "Even when I have native students that find me that have never been in my classes, who are not a part of the American Indian Association—they still find me—and they come into my office, usually in a moment of crisis and they sit down and they cry and they say, How did you make it? How did you get a Phd? The first thing I say to them is, I have no idea," she said.
  3. "There was not a path for me. No one spelled it out. No one said, This is what you need to do to succeed in this area. It was all persistence and trial and error. And I had a lot of errors," Dr. Navarro said.
  4. The idea for the Beyonce class grew out of luncheon conversation in passing with Denise Isom, chair of the Ethnic Studies department.
  5. "She has made such an extraordinary mark because of the amazing level of excellence in the work she does in every capacity," Isom said about Navarro. "It is an honor and privilege to work with her and to know her—and on top of all of it, she is the kind of person you just want to know, you want to spend time with, you want to be in conversation with. She is a tremendous person.”
  6. Graphic communication senior Zia Absar is a student in Dr. Navarro's class and was chosen to speak as panelist for Bey Dey.
  7. "[Dr. Navarro] is just so educated, and she remembers things so well—anything you talk to her about, she will bring in all these sources that will really enrich your conversation and make it so much more academic and so much more credible," Absar said. "It's so inspiring to have someone so knowledgeable in this position and to have a female who is so knowledgeable in this position. She is amazing.”
  8. Dr. Navarro, along with several other students and professors took to the stands of the Chumash Auditorium last year to speak out against the egregious fraternity "Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos" party theme. Dr. Navarro is president of the Cal Poly American Indian and Faculty Staff Association.
  9. Dr. Navarro read a statement aloud from Dr. Jennifer Rose Denetdale, a commission member of the Arizona-based Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission regarding the nature of the party.
  10. “‘Colonial Bros’ … is a reference to one of the most brutal, humiliating and devastating experiences under American colonialism,” wrote Dr. Jennifer Rose Denetdale, an associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico."
  11. Hip hop is one of Dr. Navarro's great passions. Her first dream job was to be a fly girl like J-Lo in "A Living Color." She teaches a class on Hip Hop, Politics, & Poetics and hopes to have a single authored monograph on indigenous hip hop.
  12. All of Dr. Navarro's research is in indigenous hip-hop. Above is a research piece she authored about the way in which indigenous hip-hop artists are challenging cultural genocide and contemporary post-racial discourse.
  13. Dr. Navarro is mentioned in this piece about Hip Hop Congress, a club on Cal Poly's campus. She talks about the power of hip-hop, particularly because of the demographic it often reaches: white males aged 18-24.
  14. “It might be that we have a greater population listening to mainstream hip hop, especially among the young white male students here at Cal Poly,” Dr. Navarro said. “But do they have the knowledge of exposure to communities of color and how they experience hip hop? Or the kinds of hip hop they probably listen to?”
  15. Above is a blog post Dr. Navarro wrote about her experience as an educator of indigenous studies on college campus— centers in which many of its students have little to no knowledge of indigenous history.
  16. "Since the university I teach for is located in California, I have many students who were raised in the public education system of this state," Dr. Navarro wrote. "This means that they have all conducted a “mission project” in the fourth grade during their elementary school education. This project does not implement a critical lens on the colonial and genocidal project of the mission system, nor does it offer these students accounts of Indigenous resistance to this violent and abusive system."
  17. "Instead, the assignment romanticizes and celebrates these missions within California’s history to the point that, when these fourth graders become young adults and enter into their college curriculum, many of them have vested interests and ideas in neocolonialism and anti-Indigenous racism," Dr. Navarro wrote.