Isela Peña-Rager

Job title: 
L&S Assistant Director

Title: Assistant Director, L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising

About Isela

Joined the L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising in: 
2017 and then again in 2020!

Ed.D., Educational Leadership, University of California, Davis (in progress)
M.A., Spanish, concentration in Applied Linguistics, ESL Teaching Certificate, Purdue University
B.A., Art, concentration in Photography, University of La Verne

How did you get here?
Throughout a lifetime of diving into my passions headfirst, with a healthy dose of elbow grease, I've learned that I am in love with exploration and discovery, particularly when it comes to folks' dreams and aspirations. I've lived, studied, and worked abroad; and, I've been a higher education professional at five US campuses thus far, partly as a language instructor and, for a longer stint, as a student advisor and group facilitator. I am grateful to be able to now serve the most phenomenal undergraduate student body and a compassionate, committed, and colorful advising staff in my role as assistant director. My goal is to help implement a student-centered and equity- focused strategic plan that will lead to a positive student experience. 

What is your approach to advising?
Every student is fully capable and contributes their knowledge, skills, energy, history, and aspirations to the Cal community. Every interaction with a student is an opportunity to instill and build trust and confidence. I aim to be as candid, respectful, and helpful as possible as you navigate the world within and beyond the classroom, this campus, and your communities. If I don't have the answers to all your questions, I promise to work tirelessly to connect you with the appropriate resources.

What advice do you have for L&S students in general?
Always remember that you belong at Cal! The university is because you are. Find and foster your communities of support, embrace your identities, explore the comfortable and the not-so-comfortable academic and involvement opportunities, and don't be afraid to make your mark in a way that is uniquely your own.

Most unusual job you ever had?
Photographer for the San Gabriel Valley News Group. I had to hunt down daily stories and compete with an all-male staff for sports assignments!

About me:
First-generation college student. Latina. Daughter of Mexican immigrants. Mental health and social justice advocate.
My husband, our son, and I are SoCal natives who have made Oakland home since 2013. I love art, reading, cooking, baking, connecting with folks, organizing fun and meaningful gatherings, cuddling with my kid, and laughing. Laughter is everything to me.