'Embracing Your Whole Self' October 6, 2023
Hispanic Heritage Month
“There’s a lot of pressure.”
Renata Brito-Cherrin (PsyD ‘28) paused as she reflected on her experience as a Latina student, saying expectations
for students like her can sometimes be higher than for students of other backgrounds.
“You kind of come in feeling, through all of our lived experience, that you've really
got something to prove.”
Brito-Cherrin grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, but her cultural heritage is Mexican
(her father still lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico). It was difficult at times to fit in,
she revealed, often straddling cultural lines between the majority white students
and her Latino peers.
“I wasn't really easily accepted into any kind of category,” she said. “The white
students didn't really fully accept me, and the Latino students didn't really fully
accept me either, I had a hard time.”
Through hard work and perseverance, she has overcome many of the challenges she faced
as an adolescent and found direction in the more difficult parts of her experience.
“Once I began to embrace my whole self, every part of my identity, I really began
“I was able to get myself into Hampshire College, where I did my undergraduate, and
then to Goldey Beacom College for my master's,” she said. “There's such a psychological
component to identity and race, and it really gave me a strong interest in psychology.”
She’s hopeful her experience might serve as an example for future Latino students
to recognize their potential and achieve their dreams.
“The more you see it, the more commonplace it becomes, the more people will say, ‘Okay,
I can get my doctorate,’ or ‘I can go to grad school,’ or whatever it might be,” she
said. “When younger people see someone who looks like them, it’s inspiring. They think,
‘I can do this, too.’ And that's powerful.”
She also sees opportunity in the hurdles she and others have faced. “There's pressure
[as a Latino student], but there's also a really exciting opportunity to build a more
inclusive environment and more inclusivity in our field,” she said.
To the doubters or prospective students who might be unsure about whether to follow their dreams of going to medical school,
Brito-Cherrin believes it’s all worth it. “It seems overwhelming,” she said. “But
if you break it down piece by piece, it gets a lot easier.”
“Just because it hasn’t been done before in your family, or just because people tell
you that you can’t do it,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Make a list
of steps to take, break everything down into small pieces, and you will get there.”
From September 15 to October 15, PCOM joins others around the country in observing
Hispanic Heritage Month. This important celebration honors the histories, cultures
and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos everywhere. At PCOM, we recognize our faculty,
students and staff who identify as Hispanic or Latino and will highlight their stories
throughout the month.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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