CITRAL, UC Santa Barbara Library, Room 1576

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U.S. classrooms reflect culture-specific ideas about the “right” way to be a student; specifically, they reward soft independence, such as self-expression and self-motivation. For students who are also guided by norms and practices of interdependence, such as low-income, first-generation students of color, these institutional expectations likely mismatch or render invisible their cultural values. In this talk, I examine how privileging soft independence ignores the familial commitments of low-income, first-generation students of color and the assets they bring and, subsequently, undermines well-being and performance. We then discuss the need for inclusive practices that better reflect the values, needs, and strengths of a growing population of students. 

Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of the Student Success Equity Research Center at UC Santa Cruz. She earned her PhD in Social Psychology at The University of Arizona, where she was also a Ronald E. McNair Achievement Scholar as an undergraduate student. As a social and cultural psychologist, she examines how institutional structures perpetuate educational inequity by privileging middle-class, White ways of being and thereby undermining experiences of low-income, first-generation students of color. She then examines how to reverse these effects through culturally-informed approaches that draw attention to students’ cultural strengths. For her research, teaching, and community engagement, Dr. Covarrubias was awarded the 2019 Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences Early Career Impact Award, the 2018 Society for Research in Child Development Latino Caucus Early Career Award and the 2017 Society of Psychological Study of Social Issues Michele Alexander Early Career Award. With her team of student researchers in the Culture and Achievement Collaborative, she works to translate research findings into actionable practices that can shift the culture of institutions and can help students thrive.

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