Thriving By Embracing Your Whole Self | Hispanic Heritage Month | PCOM
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'Embracing Your Whole Self' 
Hispanic Heritage Month

October 6, 2023

Renata Brito-Cherrin (PsyD ‘28)“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.”

Renata Brito-Cherrin (PsyD ‘28) as a childThrough 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 to thrive.”

“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.”

Renata Brito-Cherrin (PsyD ‘28) and her fatherShe 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

For the past 125 years, 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, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, 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. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. 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 or call 215-871-6100.

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