University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Oluchi Ukairo



Undergraduate Research Award


Oluchi is a Senior undergraduate student studying Psychology on a Pre-medical track. Under the mentorship of Dr. Tara Mandalaywala and Graduate Student Yuchen Tian, her current honors thesis research focuses on understanding Children’s beliefs on upward social mobility within groups of varying racial, immigration, and disability status. More specifically, the research is hoping to see if children are making accurate predictions about mobility within these groups and the potential implications these beliefs could have. As Oluchi continues her academic career she hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatrician to forward equity work within pediatric populations.


My current research is seeking to understand if children possess an awareness of inequities in social mobility, such that their expectation about the likelihood of social mobility varies based on the social identities that a person holds. On a broader scale, this research evaluates childrens predictions of upward mobility amongst families of varying race, disability status, or immigration history. As we evaluate if children are making accurate predictions about mobility within these groups, the findings could yield explanations that show how these beliefs can influence a child’s potential to work towards upward mobility while also exposing the likelihood of children to either defend or dismantle a system of oppression. In cases where Black children are forming their ideas of society and their chances of ‘success’, perceptions that people within their social group are less likely to experience mobility and elasticity have proved to yield lower attempts to work towards such. This research is imperative for understanding the developmental stages in which children begin to internalize such beliefs that could decrease their morale and likelihood of engaging in opportunities that could otherwise better their chances at mobility. While the impact of this research will be highly beneficial in boosting the morale of minority and low socioeconomic families, I hope that this research has an impact beyond the world child developmental psychology, but amongst educators and healthcare professionals to understand the role leaders can have in creating identity affirming and culturally sensitive spaces for children to understand their identities and form positive beliefs about their opportunities in life.

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