In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, we’re spotlighting Hispanic and Latino leaders in our field. We are starting with our own emerging leader, Brighter Strategies’ Associate Consultant Fernanda Vergara
Born in New York City, Fernanda’s parents are from Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Fernanda considers herself Caribbean-Latina, but also uses the term Hispanic to describe her background. As a child, Fernanda’s family moved frequently, eventually settling in Maryland, where she now lives.
As a teenager, she developed a deep interest in psychology, seeing it as a field little understood and valued by her community. According to Fernanda, the general attitude towards mental illness or psychological distress was that “if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” Depression and anxiety were taboo subjects and she wanted to help educate her community. Fernanda went to Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York and majored in Psychology with a Biology minor.
Her work with Brighter Strategies is her first professional job in the consulting field. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree and plans to continue working in the field of Organizational Psychology.
The Importance of Role Models
As a child, Fernanda read about Ellen Ochoa, the first female, Hispanic astronaut in space. While Fernanda changed her dreams of being an astronaut early on, she still credits Ochoa’s story with inspiring her to reach higher. Ochoa’s story gave her the confidence to so something new and big for her community.
Although she has had mentors, Fernanda has not had any Latina mentors and thinks having one would be beneficial. She sees Hispanic representation as critical and hopes to one day be a mentor to others. For Fernanda, one of the main drivers, or motivators, in her career is the opportunity to break generational boundaries. She wants to advance in academia and pursue psychology so that she can be available to someone who lacks mentors, the way she did growing up.
In addition to being a role model and mentor, Fernanda hopes that her future career helps her bring more education to her community around both psychology and the nonprofit space as a potential career field. She would like to work to bring more resources to her community. Fernanda also hopes to keep pushing herself out of her comfort zone. She knows that when she pushes past discomfort, things get easier and better.
At Brighter Strategies, we are thrilled to be with Fernanda on the first step of what we know will be a long, meaningful, and successful career. We are proud to have her on our team.