Four social sciences affiliates have netted Latino Excellence and Achievement Awards from the Office of Inclusive Excellence. The awards celebrate research excellence and achievements across all schools on the UCI campus and specifically those who provide encouragement and support for the Latinx community.  

Below are the recipients from social sciences and their awards. Congrats to all those honored!

Faculty Mentorship
Belinda Campos, Chicano/Latino Studies Associate Professor

UCI Chicano/Latino studies associate professor Belinda Campos has been named the 2020 recipient of the Faculty Mentor Award. Campos is a psychological scientist who studies the role of sociocultural context in shaping relationships, emotions, and health. She is an academic leader in the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC) in the School of Medicine where she teaches courses on issues relevant to Latinx medical care, is involved in curriculum development and program design, and counsels graduate students. She’s also an active mentor to Ph.D. graduate students and undergrads who regularly teaches courses that bridge psychology and Chicano/Latino Studies. Her research is recognized for showing that contexts that emphasize prioritizing others before the self can be beneficial for relationships and protective of health. Her work has been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, and UC Mexus. She is also an associate editor for the Journal of Family Psychology and consulting editor for several other leading journals in the field of psychology. Campos received her bachelor’s in psychology from UC Santa Barbara, her Ph.D. in social-personality psychology from UC Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. She joined the UCI faculty in 2007 as a visiting assistant professor in psychology and social behavior and as a regular rank assistant professor in Chicano/Latino studies in 2008. She directs the Culture, Relationships, and Health Lab in the School of Social Sciences.

Graduate Student Excellence 
Martha Morales Hernández, Ph.D. Student

Martha Morales Hernández’ research agenda aims to identify ways to better support and promote the educational success and wellbeing of undocumented college students. She has five co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles, all of which make critical theoretical contributions about the specific ways that immigration status functions as a source of social inequality. She has also co-authored four research briefs that outline how universities can mediate the consequences of illegality. She has worked closely with the UCI Dream Center to use her research findings to inform program development, including the creation of a Scholar-in-Residence program to provide professional development to undocumented undergraduate and graduate students. As the center’s graduate student fellow, she led the recruitment of 36 campus fellowship sites, securing $133,200 from campus partners to fund professional development opportunities for undergraduate students without work authorization. She actively mentors undocumented students, drawing on her own experiences as a pedagogical tool to inform and encourage students. She is also a 2020 Ford pre-doctoral fellowship recipient.

Outstanding Alumni Leadership 
Ricardo Hernández, Alumnus, UCI Social Sciences  

Ricardo Hernández graduated from UCI with bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish literature. He was born and was and raised in Los Angeles, with the exception of a couple of years when he lived abroad as a child. He grew up in an economically and culturally diverse community, which helped to shape his formative years. While attending UCI as an undergraduate in 1996, he co-founded the first Latino Greek Letter organization, Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, which opened the doors for other Latino Greek Letter organizations to be part of the UCI community. After graduation, he worked in several non-profit organizations in the Los Angeles County and Orange County areas focusing on community organizing and advocating for social issues in disadvantaged areas. He then went on to the University of Washington where he earned a Master of Public Administration. Currently, he works in the philanthropic field as a director for Casey Family Programs, a national foundation focused on improving the child welfare system at the local, state, and federal level. He oversees activities for the foundation in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, and Puerto Rico. He lives in the West LA area with his wife, son, and daughter. He is an avid traveler and soccer enthusiast.

Distinguished Staff Leadership
Kimberly Ayala, Director, Undergraduate/ Undeclared Advising Program and Alumnus, UCI Social Sciences

Kimberly Ayala was the first in her immediate and extended family to attend college. “My high school counselor discouraged me from applying to colleges by saying, ‘People like you (Mexican-Americans) don’t go to college,’” she says. She applied anyway and after connecting with the Early Academic Outreach Office during the first quarter of her freshman year, she made friendships and mentors and thrived. As a psychology major at UCI, she was an active member of the UCI community. She worked as a student coordinator for the Early Academic Outreach Program assisting low-income and first generation high school and junior high students learn about the opportunities available to them in college. In addition, she was a peer academic advisor in the School of Social Sciences, an administrative intern working in the dean of students office, a member of the University Center Board, an after school counselor for elementary school students, and the co-chair of the Chicano-Latino graduation. She kept very busy but did not let her grades suffer. At UCI, she learned the importance of time management. As director of the UCI Undergraduate/Undeclared Advising Program, her primary responsibility is to ensure that all U/U students’ academic counseling needs are met. In addition, she ensures advisors can answer all student questions, monitor student progress, develop interactive ways to assist students in their transition to UCI and mentor and coach students in developing their leadership skills. “I’ve been on campus for decades, and I love assisting our U/U students transition to UCI and giving students strategies for academic success, personal success, developing their academic and career goals, and seeing them grow as Anteaters.”


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