Rebecca Covarrubias, Ph.D. - Emerging Professional Award 2020

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Human Development from the Norton School in 2007.  Her research career began when she participated as a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Achievement program at The University of Arizona, where dedicated staff and faculty helped her envision a career as a research scientist. She was inspired to continue at The University of Arizona to earn a Master's and Ph.D. in Social Psychology. Dr. Covarrubias then became a University Diversity Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow for the Center of the Study of Diversity and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware.  She joined the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) in fall 2015, and is now a tenured Associate Professor there. As faculty, she diects both her own research lab, the Culture and Achievement Collaborative, and the UCSC Student Success Equity Research Center, a university research center dedicated to educational equity.

Dr. Covarrubias’s research focuses on how dominant learning contexts undermine educational, social, and mental health outcomes for historically marginalized students. She has conducted pioneering research on the “cultural mismatch” theory, which considers how the values embedded in learning contexts (such as traditional schools) reflect a mismatch with students from indigenous, Latinx, and working-class backgrounds. 

In addition to her research, she is actively involved in creating an inclusive campus at UCSC.  As a first-generation college student herself, she has been committed to supporting first-generation students to find a clear and strong pathway to success in college.  She leads the First Generation Initiative at UCSC with the goal of fostering a sense of community among first-generation students, staff, and faculty. In recognition of this work, and her important research contributions, she has received several early career awards. Dr. Covarrubias is truly deserving of all her success – especially success that is so meaningful for promoting the full inclusion of all students who seek higher education. 

Institutes and Centers

The University of Arizona