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Cecilia Rios-Aguilar

Chair, Department of Education; Professor
Cecilia Rios-Aguilar
Cecilia Rios-Aguilar

Moore Hall 2339
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521

Cecilia Rios-Aguilar
Chair, Department of Education; Professor

Cecilia Rios-Aguilar is Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS). Currently, she also serves as a faculty Co-Director of Policy Analysis of California Education (PACE), as a Board Member of the Spencer Foundation, and as a research affiliate of Wheelhouse: The Center for the Community College Leadership and Research at UC Davis. She is past Director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Her research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of asset-based conceptual frameworks—funds of knowledge, community cultural wealth and the forms of capital—and of statistical approaches—econometric models, multilevel models, spatial analyses and GIS, and social network analysis—to study the educational and occupational trajectories of marginalized students. Dr. Rios-Aguilar’s 2011-2014 research project, “Getting Connected: Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Enhance Community College Student Success,” was funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project explored the use of social media technology to connect and engage community college students in ways that improve success outcomes. Currently, Dr. Rios-Aguilar is examining how community college students make decisions about majors, jobs, and careers and the impact of strategic nudges to help community college students navigate the financial aid process. Her latest co-edited book, published by Routledge, Funds of Knowledge in Higher Education: Honoring Students’ Cultural Experiences and Resources as Strengths, refines and builds on the concept of funds of knowledge in a sophisticated and multidisciplinary way to examine issues related to access and transition to college, college persistence and success, and pedagogies in higher education. Dr. Rios-Aguilar obtained her Ph.D. in Education Theory and Policy from the University of Rochester, her M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester, and her B.A. in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México [ITAM].

Teaching and Research Interests
Research Center


  • Chair, Department of Education
  • Faculty Co-Director at Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)


  • Ph.D., Educational Theory and Policy, University of Rochester
  • M.S., School Administration, University of Rochester
  • B.A., Economics, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Select Publications

  • Huerta, A. H., Rios-Aguilar, C. & Ramirez, D. (in press). A qualitative look at how marginalized student parents make decisions about college and careers. Community College Review.
  • Rios-Aguilar, C. & Neri, R., (2021). Introduction. Special issue titled: “Funds of knowledge, community cultural wealth, and forms of capital: Strengths, tensions, and practical considerations”. Urban Education.
  • D’Amico, M., González Canche, M., Rios-Aguilar, C., & Salas, S., (2019). Community college student career capital: An exploration of college and career alignment. Review of Higher Education.
  • Reyes, M., Dache-Gerbino, A., Rios-Aguilar, C., Gonzalez Canché, M., & Deil-Amen, R. (2019). The ‘geography of opportunity’ for community college students. Community College Review, 47(1), 31-52.