Student Profile

Lydia Iyeczohua Zendejas

Ed.D. Student-CANDEL Cohort 17

Lydia Iyeczohua Zendejas


My path to my higher education profession started in 1990 as a student in the UC San Diego Summer Bridge program. It was there that I met a network of caring and dedicated student staff, administrators, and faculty. This network was central to my retention as a Xicana where, at the time, Latinx only represented 9% of the undergraduates. As of fall 2020, Latinx students represent 21% of the undergraduate population. After graduating, I made the conscious choice to apply to a Masters program in higher education in the east coast for two reasons. I wanted to experience more of the diversity of the United States and learn more about the higher education field. In my program I learned which groups of students, and why, were enrolling in college and the K-12 practices that stifled the academic potential of low-income and students of color. During that time I formed my personal philosophy of student affairs, to appropriately support and challenge students. 

I am a mother, daughter, sister, and danzante. I am an active danzante and leader with Calpulli Tonalehqueh, they are my chosen family. My spiritual name is Iyeczohua (ee-YEK-so-ah), which means righteous woman who is clear and sincere.

Leadership Roles

In my formative years, I held positions in student activities and high school counseling. I enjoyed connecting with students and helping them reach their potential. For almost 9 years, I directed the MESA Engineering Program (MEP) at the Baskin School of Engineering (SoE) at UC Santa Cruz. What attracted me to the position was that it entailed direct student services and program management. The program’s goal of supporting the retention and graduation of underrepresented minorities was in line with my values. Now as Project Director with the Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives at UC Santa Cruz, I get to guide decisions regarding curriculum, advising, programs, resources, and evaluation with the goal of educational equity for all students – most especially those who have been historically marginalized. With an educational doctorate I look forward to bringing my personal experience and professional expertise to continue supporting student success and retention on a broader campus level.

Research Interests

Proactive advising, sense of belonging, academic self-efficacy

Recent Projects and Positions

Project Director, HSI Grants, UC Santa Cruz

MESA Director & Undergraduate Advisor, Baskin School of Engineering, UC Santa Cruz

National Program Director, Hispanic Scholarship Fund

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