“I am proud to be modeling change in The Chicago School’s International Psychology program, because we can directly demonstrate to students how change, collaboration, and relationship-building can work on a global scale. Per our mission, The Chicago School supports understanding and providing support for cultures and communities that don’t always have a voice.”
On paper, Dr. Patricia H. A. Perez is a native of Quezon City, Philippines. But in her mind, she is a citizen of the world.
“My father’s job saw my family getting transferred every four to five years during my childhood,” explains Dr. Perez, who brings this global perspective to her students at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “We were fortunate enough to live in many diverse communities and travel widely. My parents wanted to teach us that we did not live in a bubble. As a result, I learned early in life that we are global citizens who have a responsibility to give back to the communities in which we live.”
This cultural awareness and respect for diversity makes Dr. Perez an ideal fit for The Chicago School’s International Psychology program, where theory is put into practice through international field experiences around the globe.
“One of the things I am most proud of is empowering students for global change,” she says. “Each student brings in a unique skill set of passions and talents. I find it exciting to harness those talents and to empower students to use them for the betterment of humanity.”
Dr. Perez’s focus is on child development and psychology, which she says she first became interested in as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University, immediately honing in on research regarding the relationship between culture and child-rearing methods and styles. She was also deeply influenced by a volunteer experience she had teaching piano lessons in a home for children who were abused and neglected. This inspired her to pursue a M.Ed. degree in Early Childhood Development from the Erikson Institute in Chicago and then a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago.
Today, all of these things come together in her work at The Chicago School, where she conducts research in the areas of child abuse and neglect, family trauma, multigenerational issues of violence, children with special needs, , etc. She consistently gives presentations around the world on these topics.
“One of my most memorable experiences was being invited to talk on Hala Kuwait TVabout autism,” Dr. Perez says. “The male reporter got choked up during the live interview when I revealed that part of my passion for working with children with special needs stems from having our youngest child diagnosed with autism at 18 months.”
Over the past five years, Dr. Perez’s work at The Chicago School has focused on international programs and partnerships, and she currently leads collaborations in Ghana, Kuwait, the Philippines, and Indonesia, allowing students various opportunities to witness first-hand the complex topics and issues discussed in class.
“I typically expect that we will learn more from the global communities we visit and our hosts than they learn from us,” says Dr. Perez, adding that she takes great pride in being able to bring much-needed psychology and child development training to parts of the world that are lacking in resources. “Providing knowledge to communities that otherwise can’t access this information allows me in one small way to tip the scale toward social equality.”