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Rebecca Covarrubias



Rebecca is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Faculty Director of the Student Success Equity Research Center at the UC Santa Cruz. She earned a BS in Family Studies and Human Development (Summa Cum Laude) at the University of Arizona, where she was also a Ronald E. McNair Achievement Scholar. She continued at the University of Arizona for a PhD in Social Psychology before she took a position as a University Diversity Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Center for the Study of Diversity at the University of Delaware.


As a social and cultural psychologist, she examines how dominant institutional values and practices perpetuate educational inequity for low-income, first-generation students of color by privileging middle-class, White ways of being. She then examines how to reverse these effects through culturally-informed approaches that draw attention to students’ cultural strengths. Committed to goals of social justice and social change, her research engages diverse collaborations (e.g., students, staff, practitioners, programs) and methodologies to produce research findings grounded in problems of practice.


When she joined SPSSI as a graduate student in 2011, she found a community to strengthen these commitments and remained an active member. Her engagement with SPSSI includes co-chairing the 2017 SPSSI Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico; serving as a member of the editorial advisory board for Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy; and participating in the 2013 Summer Policy Workshop Training. She is honored to have received two awards from SPSSI for her service and research: the 2017 Michele Alexander Early Career Award and the 2019 Susan D. Dudley Early Career Scholars Research Grant Award. Through a gracious nomination by SPSSI’s Executive Committee, she also received an Early Career Impact Award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. SPSSI remains an influential community in her work as a researcher and scholar-activist.