Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

People / Graduate Students


Melanie Z. Plasencia

Race, Ethnicity & Aging, Social Stratification and Inequality, Social Networks, Urban Ethnography


Bio & Research Interests

Melanie Z. Plasencia studies how race, ethnicity, class and gender affect the experiences of aging minorities in the United States. In her dissertation, “Rich by Other Means: How Aging Pan-Ethnic Latinos Make Ends Meet,” Melanie explores the lives of older Latinos in order to understand how they envision, as well as redefine their well-being post-retirement.


Cristina Mora (Sociology), Stacy Torres (SUNY Albany)
Lok Siu
Evelyn Nakano Glenn

Courses Taught or Assisted


   R1B: Latin@s & Community

   University of California, Berkeley, Spring 2016.


   Latino Documentary Film

   University of California, Berkeley, Summer 2016.

Discussion Section Instructor

   Introduction to Chicano History

   University of California, Berkeley, Summer 2015 and 2016.


   R1B: Chicano/Latinos and The Politics of Belonging

   University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2016.

Discussion Section Instructor

   11AC: Theories & Concepts in Comparative Ethnic Studies

   University of California, Berkeley, Spring 2015.


   R1A: Latino Literature

   University of California, Berkeley, Fall, 2014


   EDU198: Adjusting to the Research University for Community College Students

   University of California, Berkeley, Fall and Spring 2012-2014.

Discussion Section Instructor

   Introduction to Chicano Culture

   University of California, Berkeley, Summer 2013.

Guest lectures:

“Developing an Interdisciplinary Study to Examine Ethnic Minorities in the U.S.”, Guest Lecture for Introduction to Ethnic Studies, Ethnic Studies Department.  University. St. Mary’s College, Moraga, CA, Spring 2015.

“Lessons From the Field: Studying Older Latinos in Urban Communities,” Guest Lecture for Undergraduate Methods Course, Ethnic Studies Department.  University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2014.


UC-Berkeley Transfer Student Center

   Fall and Spring, 2013-2015.

Chicano Latino Student Development Office

   Fall and Spring 2012-2014.

Lord Stirling Elementary School

   Spring 2009.

Select publications

  • Why Latinas Do IT: A Qualitative Exploration of Women in Information Technology” NCUR Conference Research Proceedings for University of North Carolina, 2011. 

  • An Ethnographic Exploration of Aging Latinos in “El Club De Oro” Senior Community Center, Rutgers University, Latino Hispanic & Caribbean Studies Department, Fall 2011.

  • Labor As Lens: Racial Capitalism in Puerto Rico’s Citizenship History, Caribbean Philosophical Association, Annual Meeting at The Center for Advanced Studies on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Paper Presentation, Fall 2013.

Professional Affiliations:

Latino Studies Association, American Sociological Association (section membership: Aging and the Lifecourse), Gerontological Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa.

Service to the community:

Graduate Minority Outreach, Recruitment & Retention Project Director Graduate Assembly at the University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2014- Summer 2016.

Intern at La Casa De Don Pedro Non-Profit for Youth, Family & Health Services Division, Newark NJ, 2010- 2011 Created a mentoring program for adolescent girls geared towards improving critical reading skills through cultural texts.

Field Volunteer, CENSUS, New Brunswick, NJ, 2010.