karina r p

keisha hicks

Juan Esteva Martínez, Director

 Juan Francisco Esteva Martínez is the Director of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program at the University of California, Berkeley where he coordinates the independent research of a cohort of first-generation college, low-income, and underrepresented undergraduate scholars. Juan is also Director of the Program for the Study and Practice of Indigenous Languages and Culture at the Myers Center, which offers Indigenous language courses to UC Berkeley students and the general community. Juan has a dual baccalaureate degree in Sociology and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the State University of New York, Albany (expected 2018) with a specialization in Race and Ethnic Relations and Urbanization. Juan’s passion for diversity and inclusion drives him to continually invest his time and energy into the McNair Scholars Program. As a director since 2016, Juan has advocated for the McNair Program’s immeasurable importance in supporting the academic self-efficacy of first-generation, low income, and otherwise minority/underrepresented students on the UC Berkeley campus. Due to Juan’s persistence at the institutional level, McNair was able to secure the financial support of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and the University of California Office of the President. These efforts resulted in the increase of the McNair Scholars’ stipend and the implementation of an undergraduate research program for undocumented students and formerly incarcerated students. Juan is also an experienced ethnographic researcher and renowned pioneer and contributor to the field of gang research. In 1998, Juan Francisco joined the Street Organization Project housed at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where, as a leading ethnographic researcher, he assisted in the collection of data to document the politicization of gangs in the New York City and South Central Los Angeles areas. He is the author of the article “Urban Street Activists: Gangs and Community Efforts to Bring Peace and Justice to Los Angeles Neighborhood” published in Gangs and Society.  He has also contributed entries to the Encyclopedia of Gangs. Juan’s impressive academic pedigree comes second only to his passion to push forward and continue opening academic doors for those who have been scholastically disenfranchised. He will continue to tirelessly advocate that the McNair Scholars Program receive the resources necessary to ensure that underrepresented students flourish at the undergraduate and graduate level.


Karina R. Palau, PhD, Research Coordinator

Karina earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, but her work with the McNair Program began while she was a Graduate Diversity recruit and Chancellor's Fellow on the UC Berkeley campus. Starting as a McNair graduate student tutor in 2009, Karina found that the McNair Program offered a space to learn from some of Berkeley's boldest undergraduate researchers and cultivate community with fellow transfer and bilingual students, student parents, and scholars from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds. After multiple rounds as a McNair tutor and student advisor, Karina joined the McNair Staff as Research Coordinator in 2016.

    Karina's research interests span the Americas and the Spanish, English, and Portuguese languages. They include critical theory, cultural studies, slave narrative and testimonio, Brazilian modernismo, avant-garde art movements, indigeneity, visual cultures (especially photography), and intersections between literary studies and anthropology. Her dissertation explored a series of twentieth-century experiments from Brazil and Mexico that probe the ethics of post-colonial ethnography. She believes that transforming the culture of the U.S. academy involves more than accommodating difference, and that opening the possibilities of research and scholarship to people who have traditionally been marginalized from the production of knowledge continues to be an urgent means to create social change. 

    In addition to working as the McNair Research Coordinator, Karina teaches on the UC Berkeley campus. Recent course offerings include classes on travel literature, an American Cultures course on (re)making American history in the post-Civil-Rights-Era U.S., and a course that examines depictions of four distinctive cities on the American continent: New York, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.


Keisha Hicks, Ph.D, Academic Advisor

Dr. Hicks began her affiliation with the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program began as a member of the 2003 cohort, she went on to become a very successful McNair scholar. Dr. Hicks’ research interests are as follows: African Diasporic Collective Cultural Memory, Black Latin America, and Black Popular Culture.


Ph.D. 2014 – American Culture Studies - Bowling Green State University

Master’s 2009 – Africana Studies - Cornell University

B.A. 2007 – African American Studies – University of California, Berkeley

B.A. 2007 – Sociology – University of California, Berkeley

A.A. 2002 – General Studies – Laney Community College

Academic Website: