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Swallowing Swords of Success


Krystal Roman uses her skills, sharpened by challenges and time, to prepare for a future as a Berkley bear and civil rights attorney

The crowd gasps. Kristal Roman pulls out a sharpened blade that glints in the spotlight: Advanced Placement United States History. Awes echo and shouts surround her as she swallows the shining steel with no issue. The act isn’t over: one after another Roman reveals a battalion of AP classes, sports, and clubs. She doesn’t cower in the face of edgy challenges, using her skills and intense work ethic to slide deadly blades down her throat with precise expertise. Roman looks to a future in Civil Rights, knowing she has the passion and skill to engulf any of the pointed challenges that society is going to send. Sword swallowing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Her act began when Roman was a freshman with high standards, exceptional drive, and surplus self-motivation. She started swallowing AP blades early; 11 AP classes line her transcript, including the six she is taking as a senior. 

What motivates me is that I know it’s not something that everyone gets. My parents grew up in Mexico and so they have always been working-class and they never got the opportunity to receive a full education,” Roman said. “I’ve always recognized that education in America is a privilege. My opportunity is not something that I should just take lightly.”

Roman has faced the struggle of finding a healthy balance between her health and extracurriculars. 

“I think my biggest personality trait in sophomore and junior year was the fact that I would go to bed at 4 a.m. just doing homework and then show up exhausted to class. I keep persisting and doing what it is I have to do to get where I want to be.”

Her two sports of tennis and track and field were outlets where she could work on her “own personal self-growth.” From her freshman to junior years, Roman competed in track and field for throws. She started varsity tennis as a sophomore and led as a two-year co-captain

Head tennis coach Laura Clowes, has watched Roman grow her leadership, grit, and determination skills. Clowes awarded Roman with the Most Valuable Player award for their 2021 season.

“From a coach’s perspective, she’s the player you want. She came to the team, kind of raw, with not a lot of real tennis experience, but is the hardest working kid out there because she just wants to get better,” Clowes said. “I would like her to take a step back once in a while, and appreciate how amazing she is. I don’t think she gives herself enough credit for being just this compassionate, amazing human being, I mean she cares about her teammates, her school, and the world.”


Perhaps it is Roman who is the sword– pushing herself down life’s gullet? She’s plunged into math tutoring and phone banking for Brynne Kennedy’s congressional campaign.

Roman is always working to push herself to the best version of herself she can be. She’s used courses like AVID, APUSH,  and clubs like the Black Student Union and Activists Coalition of Tomorrow to develop her aspiration to become a civil rights attorney. 

“I like learning about other cultures and other marginalized groups and their experiences just because as a person of color, Latinx and Hispanic, my experiences are not the same as like black students or like Asian American students,” Roman said, who was the secretary of BSU in 2020-21.

History teacher, Seth Draine, believes her open-mindedness will be impactful in her future. 

“[She shows a] genuine desire to learn, ask questions, and just share her interests with peers. And just having this ability to see a problem from all angles, and to truly get at the root causes will just help her solve big challenges that our world is facing,” Draine said, knowing Roman since she took APUSH her junior year. “She has the passion,  interest,  intellect, level-headedness that will really make some change.”

Taking Draine’s history class helped narrow down the field of law that Roman wanted to pursue. Her family’s immigration from Morelos, Mexico, and the Civil Rights unit of APUSH helped Roman realize she wanted to focus on racial discrimination as an attorney. 

Razor-sharp points and blades of all kinds lie ahead. Yet, Roman knows that she has the skill to swallow them. Going to Berkeley may be the end of her act as a Bearcat but the curtains will never close on her sharp-wit and indomitable drive that no obstacle can ever dull.

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    Geoffrey Douglas LandJun 11, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Great article, brilliant graphics, and timely recognition of an exceptional Bearcat Valedictorian. Political Science and Ethnic Studies at Berkeley? So cool. Of course, we should have foreseen it when Roman included NWA in her song project in APUSH. Fine writing, Ms. Gaviola. I am excited to see where you’ll take Crimson in the year ahead. PRHS is a better place for Malia and Krystal’s presence.