feminism, feminist, Quotes

Wisdom on Women Wednesday #3: Dr. Martha Bernal

As mentioned in last week’s WOWW post, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. So what better time than now to discuss some super phenomenal women who have taken the world by its lapel and shook it up some in the Mental Health profession. Today we honor Dr. Martha E. Bernal who is also known as the first Latina to earn a PhD in Psychology in the America.


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Dr. Bernal hails from a Mexican descendant family that was subjected to discrimination during a very intense time of racial segregation. Regardless of the odds that attempted to derail her, Martha was afforded the opportunity to receive her education and eventually graduated from high school then moved onto college.

  1. Bernal was the Daughter of Immigrants

Martha E. Bernal was born to Mexican parents who migrated to the U.S. prior to her birth. Bernal, who was born in Texas, was raised in a time of harsh racial and gender discrimination. Nevertheless, she found a way to rise to the occasion of success even in the face of direct oppression. Unfortunately, at first Bernal’s father was opposed to her attending graduate school and believed that she should focus on finding herself a husband. Obviously the latter did not concern her much as she fought for her education and excelled with it.

As a Mexican-American Bernal and her peers were forbidden from embracing their brown skin and speaking in their native tongue of Spanish. This however did not stop her from using that same “forbidden” culture to improve the Mental Health Profession. Ignoring the protests of her father and the discrimination from society she received her Masters in 1955 from Syracuse University and later in 1962 obtained her PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington.

  1. An Advocate and Champion for her Community

Throughout her career, Dr. Bernal was constantly seen speaking up about the needs of her culture and other minority communities. As a recent graduate Bernal found herself being turned away from job opportunities due to being a woman. Regardless of rejections she pushed through and developed several connections that led to her receiving a grant to study how psychologists prepared for work with multicultural groups.

Dr. Bernal went on to develop the National Hispanic Psychological Association. During her time as a professor at Arizona State University, she focused on understanding the identity development of Mexican-American children and how schools could work to better serve these children. In addition, she was known for being one of the pioneers of implementing the importance of ethnic studies within schools. Bernal even began to conduct training and research for other clinical psycholgoists on how to be more effective when working with the minority population.

  1. A Distinguished Psychologist

Dr. Bernal had an extensive wealth of research conducted which led to a total of 60 journal articles and book chapters produced from her hard work. Within the course of her work as a Psychologist, Bernal taught several courses at schools nationwide, among those schools included the University of California, the University of Denver and Arizona State University. As aforementioned she started the National Hispanic Psychology Association, established the Board of Ethnic Minority Affairs of the American Psychological Association, and even worked with the National Latino/a Psychological Association.

Dr. Bernal also worked on APA’s (American Psychological Association) Commission on Ethnic Minority, Recruitment, Retention and Training and was a member of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Affairs. Overall, Bernal saw to it that communities that were largely underserved received the mental health advocacy that they all deserved through her work as a Clinical Psychologist. However, Bernal did not solely focus on the clinical portion of mental health. In fact she strayed from it a bit to focus on learning theories and empiricism which she used to treat children suffering from conduct disorder. By 1979, she completely shifted her psychological gears to centralize the needs of minorities and ethnic studies.

  1. A Winner

Throughout her life, Dr. Bernal received a plethora of awards for her resilience and extraordinary career in Psychology. She was recognized with the Distinguished Life Achievement Award from APA’s Division 45, the Society for the Psychological Study of Minority Issues. Bernal also received the Hispanic Research Center Lifetime Award from Arizona State University, the Carolyn Attneave Award for her lifelong dedication to ethnic minority studies. In 2001  at APA’s 2001 Annual Convention she was awarded with the 2001 Contributions to Psychology Award.

  1. Expanded the Psychological Knowledge on Minorities

    Dr. Bernal constantly found ways to incorporate studying the minority population in order to provide solutions on how to better serve them. Her studies, literature and advocacy did not fall short, as ethnic studies in Psychological has spread nationwide. Her dedication to increasing the population of Psychologists who worked with and were from minority backgrounds helped to improve the Mental Health Profession as a whole. She even served as mentor for several of her fellow psychologists, and especially those who were fellow Latinas.


In 2001, Dr. Bernal passed away from cancer but we continue to honor her legacy as one of the most distinguished Latinas in the field of Psychology. We thank her for the great work she did with her time here on earth. It is because of women such as herself that other Women of Color, myself included, can feel more confident in the work that we do in the field of Mental Health.

I hope that you all enjoyed this week’s Wisdom on Women post. If you have any suggestions of some unsung heroines that are often left out of the conversation of history, comment below.

Also, if you enjoyed this post let me know by commenting, liking or sharing. I hope that you were able to learn just much as I did while researching Dr. Bernal.

Serenity, Smiles & Positive Vibes,

Ms. Royale





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Creative Writing, feminism, feminist, History

Wisdom on Women Post #2: Dr. Reiko Homma True

As you may already know She Is Splendid is dedicated to ALL Women of Color. As the month of May has now arrived, we have also made it to Asian-American and Pacific Islander Month. May is also known as Mental Health Awareness Month. With that said, I would like to kick it off by honoring Dr. Reiko Homma True, a splendid WOC who also happens to be a native of Japan and also a practicing Psychologist.

Throughout the history of Psychology white men have often been overrepresented. Even today this overrepresentation with white men in Psychology as the dominating group is still a commonality. Thus, a lot of men of color, and women in general are severely underrepresented. This lack of representation can lead to a lack of trust from those in the general public who seek to find mental health services. Also, a plethora of individuals who come from non-white backgrounds tend to shun the idea of Western Mental Health practices.

Therefore, when women such as Dr. True come along, it is key to be informed about who they are and what they have done. That way young women of color can feel, and see themselves represented which in turn can help provide them with the necessary courage to excel above the norms. Overall, we must highlight the accomplishments of courageous individuals who go into fields such as Psychology, without fitting the stereotypical idea of what a Mental Health Care Professional is supposed to resemble.


Five Splendid Facts You Should Know About Dr. Reiko True

1. Dr. True Is a Japanese Native

Reiko Homma True, was born in Japan in 1930. Prior to migrating to the U.S., True attended a university in Tokyo. While enrolled in university, she made history as being one of the only 3 women in a class total of 80 students. Thus, proving that even in her earlier days she served as a champion for her fellow women. Dr. True later attended the California School of Professional Psychology in Berkley.

2. She Is an Activist

In her own words, True has previously admitted that “Activism was quite foreign to…” her. Dr. True’s early career life is what eventually propelled her into the world of activism for other minorities and especially for other Asian-Americans. True was inspired by her peers, friends and mentor, Mary Goulding, who were all heavily involved in the progressive movement during the 60s. Although she considered herself to simply be a more reserved Asian woman, True later admitted that becoming an activist was “…quite empowering.”

3. True Is an Advocate for the Asian Community

One of her missions as a Psychologist has been to help her fellow Asian-Americans have the ability to better navigate the American society within the realms of their native culture. So it is no surprise that she has served as a strong advocate for other Asian-American women. Dr. True has specifically been known for mentoring Asian women in areas of life such as “struggling with their husband’s expectations that they be subservient.” Overall, her career has been in service of uplifting minorities. Thanks to her dedication to her community, Dr. True’s career took off nationally and internationally as well.

4. She Is a Founder

In 1995 the Kobe region of Japan suffered a severe earthquake. After this natural disaster Dr. True traveled to Japan and eventually developed a program that helped to offer mental health services to victims of natural disasters. Later on down the line, she also played an integral part in the establishment of the Asian-American Community Mental Health Program which is located in Oakland, California. This community center was a first of its kind to offer mental health services primarily centered on the specific needs of a designated minority population.

5. She Is a Winner

Dr. True has been honored with a plethora of awards all throughout her very lengthy career. A few awards bestowed upon her include the 2003 Lifetime Award from the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), and has even been accredited as an Outstanding Alumna by the Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley of the California Alumni Association. Furthermore, she has also been a winner of the first title, take for example her recognition as the first woman and first minority to become the director of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Forensic Services.

Currently Dr. True is still a practicing Clinical Psychologist in the San Francisco area of California. She continues to be of service to her community by aiding them with personal and professional circumstances. Dr. True has expressed that she understands how significant mental health issues can be when it comes to minorities due to their “…unique struggle at various levels-whether they are first, second, third or fourth generation.” Is is with great pleasure that I honor Dr. True as the second featured splendid woman for Wisdom on Women Wednesday’s.

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