“It’s hard to put into words what sometimes you pick up in the ether, the quiet, cruel nuances of not belonging—the subtle cues that tell you to not risk anything, to find your people and just stay put.” - Michelle Obama

I am an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I earned a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Psychology and Sociology, an MA from New York University (NYU) in Human Development and Social Intervention, and a PhD from Stanford University in Developmental and Psychological Sciences.

Research in my lab (Gracia Lab) seeks to develop a nuanced understanding of what it means to "belong" and how this sense of belonging impacts life outcomes such as academic performance and mental health. Together with my research team, I focus on exploring these concepts among culturally diverse populations, and examining how sense of belonging is associated with various social identities (gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.).


Ph.D., Developmental and Psychological Sciences, Stanford University, 2019

M.A., Human Development and Social Intervention, New York University, 2014

B.A., Psychology and Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, 2012



Research & Service

My research interests include exploring sociocultural factors (e.g., sense of belonging) that impact the academic performance and psychological development of historically marginalized students. I am also interested in informing and developing culturally-sustaining interventions for historically marginalized college students, specifically those who are first-generation/low-income (FLI).

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student and would like to join my research lab, please contact me via email.


Educational Psychology (EPSY 201) Explores fundamental issues of development, learning, instruction, and assessment. This course articulates how people learn, how they are influenced by cultural and social contexts, how to assess learning and its outcomes, and how best to teach and motivate people to achieve. Educational psychologists improve learning in a broad range of settings: homes, classrooms, work environments, and communities.

Sense of belonging diverse pop (EPSY 590) Seminar in educational psychology; topics relate to the areas of specialization represented by the various divisions within the department. In this course students will learn theories and concepts from psychology and related fields concerning sense of belonging and its association with important life outcomes. What does it mean to feel like an outcast or feel like you fit in, and how does this feeling impact human behavior and performance? The course will emphasize the cultural development of sense of belonging among diverse populations (e.g., BIPOC communities, first-generation college students) and across the lifespan (e.g., Native reservation high school students, older adults).

Profile Picture for Nidia Ruedas-Gracia

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology



Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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