Carlos Olivares

Carlos Alberto Olivares, Chicano/Latino studies major, is the recipient of the Alice B. Macy Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. The honor recognizes the senior Anteater for his paper, “Bridging Generational Gaps: Embodiment and Effects of Masculinity Among Gen-Z Latinos.” Below, he shares more about his work and experiences as a first-gen student, and what he plans to do post-undergrad in 2024.

What made you decide to pursue your current field of study, and specifically at UCI? What interests you most about your work?

My project initially began as an assignment from a research seminar class during the fall 2022 quarter under the guidance of Dr. Ramos Almeida and Dr. Flores. As a transfer student, I never imagined I would have to launch a project immediately into my first quarter at UCI, but I was open to both the challenge and opportunity. I already had an interest in gender constructs like masculinity, but I was specifically curious about the ways performing gender may differ by culture immigrant generations. What interests me most about my work is seeing how traditional gendered ideas can exist on a wider spectrum than I previously imagined. Providing a platform for my participants to speak allowed them to open up about topics possibly restricted by gendered ideas of comfortable conversation.

When do you plan to finish your degree and what are your plans thereafter?

I plan to finish my undergraduate degree at UCI during spring 2024 and pursue a Ph.D. in sociology in the subsequent fall.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

Given my brief time at UCI so far and the magnitude of this award, I would consider receiving this honor my biggest achievement here at UCI! I have also submitted this project for the Jeff Garcilazo Award for best undergraduate paper analyzing the Chicano/Latino Experience and am awaiting a response.

What activities have you been involved in as an Anteater?

I am currently a UROP mentee and a part of the Gateway Scholars program to aid with my transition to UCI. I am also part of a local non-profit organization named Vital Link, which helps students and community members with career exploration opportunities through workshops, field trips, mentorships, and more.

Who has played an important mentorship role in your life thus far and why? Specifically at UCI?

An important mentor in my academic journey has been Jose Gutierrez, my UROP mentor. He has helped me tremendously with preparing for graduate school and sharing personal stories from his undergraduate experience.

What challenges or hurdles have you faced in getting to where you are today?

I think this is common from a lot of first-generation college students but not knowing anyone in your social circles or community who have gone to college makes it difficult to envision yourself in college, much less succeeding or receiving an award. I still struggle with imposter syndrome since coming to UCI, but the support and affirming messages from faculty and close friends has certainly helped me realize the weight of my accomplishments.

Where can you most often be found on campus?

Since I commute to campus for two days out of the week, most of the time I’m in the Science Library working on class assignments or reading for leisure.

What’s your best memory thus far from your undergraduate experience at UCI?

My best memory from UCI thus far has been presenting this project at a class research seminar. I saw and learned from all the amazing work my classmates had been working on, as well as gaining experience with presenting my own research for the future.

Any other interesting tidbits you would like to share?

My heart and gratitude goes out to all my participants, professors, and mentors who were a part of this research! To my colleagues, peers, and classmates: Be curious, brave, and ask questions that haven’t been thought of yet.

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