Kris Ordoñez Mendoza – Peer Academic Counselor

Major: Public Health

Hometown: South Gate, California

Other Involvement: Peer Academic Counselor with EOP; Member of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education; Member of Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization

About: Hello everyone! My name is Kris (not short for anything :)) and I am a current student at Berkeley studying Public Health. I was born in Mexico but have lived in East L.A and South Gate since moving to the U.S at the age of 9 months. Because I came at such an early age, I did not find out I was undocumented until 10th grade of high school, when I tried to apply to a program and they did not let me because I did not have a social security number. Finding out in such a way about my status was difficult, however, due to the immense support, guidance, and protection that my family gave me, I have been able to survive this far both in this country and at CAL. My family is everything to me. They have shaped me and guided me into the person that I am today and I honestly wouldn’t be here without them. In my free time, if I have any, I enjoy writing, BAKING with friends, playing with my nephew, and watching Netflix.

One of the reasons why I chose Berkeley, was because of the Undocumented Student Program. I needed a school that was going to support me not only as a student but also as a person with this identity. USP gave that to me. It is not only a resource but also a space where community, support, and guidance exists.

Fun Fact: Most of the presents I give to people that I love and care about, are handmade. I enjoy exploring my creative side and making arts and crafts for people.


Marcela Lacayo – Peer Academic Counselor

Major: Ethnic Studies and Anthropology with a minor in Education

Hometown: Managua, Nicaragua / San Jose, California

About: I was born and raised in Nicaragua until the age of 13 after which I moved to San Jose. Being undocumented and an independent student myself, I’m passionate about supporting students with diverse narratives and experiences in any way I can.

I first found the Undocumented Student Program during Summer Bridge, and their support and acceptance at an institution not made for people like us has been one of the most important experiences I’ve had at Cal. My own PAC and counselor’s passion for what they do and the huge impact they had in my academic and personal life during Summer Bridge and into my first year, made me want to give back to my community in the same way, which led me to become a Peer Academic Counselor.

I hope to one day pursue a career in education or counseling, helping diverse students in their journey towards and through college if that’s the path they choose to take.

Fun Fact: My favorite food when I’m sick is Filipino Picadillo!