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Maria Maldonado Weng, MS/MHC '22 
MS Mental Health Counseling

July 21, 2022

Maria Maldonado Weng, MS/MHC '22Throughout her education at PCOM, Maria Maldonado Weng has been an advocate for mental health awareness among the Hispanic community in Philadelphia. As she looks to her upcoming graduation from PCOM’s MS in Mental Health Counseling program, Ms. Maldonado Weng reflects on her time at PCOM and shares her plans for the future.

Why did you choose PCOM’s mental health counseling program?

Throughout my undergraduate career, professors from PCOM’s mental health counseling program would come to my school to discuss the program. During their visits, they shared that the program supports an integrative health system and focuses on the biopsychosocial model. With this in mind, I knew PCOM would help me reach my goal. The counseling program trains future therapists to communicate with other doctors throughout the treatment of a patient because we believe that every domain a human experiences is important for effective treatment.

What was your favorite part of the mental health counseling program?

I enjoyed being a student at PCOM. My favorite part of the program was developing my advocacy project, a mental health program for the Hispanic community in Philadelphia. I started my project on the first day of school. I had no idea how to develop a mental health program. I asked my professors for advice on what I could do to accomplish the advocacy project, and I was immediately met with positive feedback and advice. Throughout my time in the program, I found my professors to be a great resource for guidance.

When The Center for Brief Therapy at PCOM heard about my advocacy project, they wanted to contribute to the project. The support of my professors gave me hope that I was able to make my idea come to life. Thanks to Dr. Corbin, Dr. Glassman, Dr. Marcie, Dr. Schwartz, and Julianna Bidic for the support and motivation to continue the mental health program for the Hispanic community in Philadelphia!

What inspired you to pursue a career in mental health counseling?

As a Puerto Rican woman, I understood why the Hispanic community perceives mental health as a taboo topic. When I moved to Philadelphia for my undergraduate degree, I had the first mental health experience that made me realize that psychology is equally important as medical science. It took me about eighteen years to have my first real psycho-education. When I lived in Puerto Rico, there weren’t many mental health conversations in my schools and neighborhoods. When I moved to Philadelphia, I noticed a lack of mental health services and awareness in Puerto Rico. Mental health is essential for everyone because it influences our daily life. I knew I wanted to help eliminate the negative view on mental health by educating the Latinx communities and debunking any misconceptions about mental health.

What impact do you hope to have after graduation?

After graduation, I will become a behavioral therapist that works with individuals who have traumatic brain injuries. I also hope that the mental health project that I developed with the help of Julianna Bidic continues after my graduation and continues to positively influence the young Latinx population of Philadelphia. I want them to understand that mental health is an important topic that should be discussed in schools and at home. I am also planning on going back to school to work on getting a PhD in School Education.

What advice would you give to a student that is starting their journey now?

Do not be afraid to talk to your professors and advisors. They are more than willing to help you with your journey. I talked to my professors about my ideas for the future, my advocacy project and my career options. They are there to help you succeed in life.