Lydia DeFlorio

Lydia DeFlorio

Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies She/Her


Languages: English, some Spanish/Spanglish. I was born in Phoenix, AZ and grew up all over the southwest. 

I attended elementary school in Chula Vista, CA, middle school in the Los Angeles area, Phoenix, and Texas (one grade each place), and high school in San Diego, CA. I am a 4th/5th generation Mexican-American. Some people assume I am Italian because of my last name, but DeFlorio was a name I chose legally as an adult to honor one of my two amazing “step” fathers who, with my mother, grandparents, and large extended family, raised me to be the person I am today.  

I am a first-generation college graduate. After a long and poorly informed educational journey, I graduated with my B.A. in Child Development from Sacramento State University in 1997. It was a full 20 years later, almost to the day, when one of my nieces earned her degree and my family saw its second college graduate. I continued my education, earning a M.A. in Early Childhood Education in 1999 (also from Sacramento State) and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from UC Berkeley in 2011. I credit my family—especially my mother and my grandparents—for instilling in me the values and work ethic to succeed in higher education, even when none of us had a clue what I was supposed to be doing. I credit a few select professors for showing me the way and never giving up. At every step, my successes were their successes. As a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno, I show up to work every day with the aspiration of paying that forward, over and over again.  

My primary area of research is promoting school readiness, particularly among children who come from lower income homes, who are Spanish-English dual language learners, and/or who are at-risk for underperforming in the K-12 education system. I am currently the Director of Graduate Studies for Human Development and Family Studies, and co-chair of Alianza. When I’m not working, my favorite things to do are to spend time with my children, visit family, and work with my husband on a massive DIY home remodel.

Over the past eighteen years, I have worked with a diverse group of learners in various K-16 settings; such as, in an administrative leadership role in a public school, college and University setting, K-12 teaching, as well as, teaching at the community college and university level. Currently, I serve as assistant director for Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science programs that are federally funded college preparatory programs for first-generation/income qualified high school students hosted at the University of Nevada, Reno. Due to my bilingual, biliterate and bicultural background, I have been able to serve on various organizations and boards to advocate for disadvantaged students, families, and communities within the local, state, and national level.