Valentina Marieyah Pacheco-Cornejo
Valentina Marieyah Pacheco-Cornejo is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her husband and high school sweetheart, Blue, is a basketball trainer. They have long been committed to improving their local community. They recently purchased a 36,000-square-foot lot in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood where they expect to build a community center that will tackle some of the root causes of poverty and violence on Chicago’s South Side.
“As a clinical psychologist, I provide psychological therapy and neuropsychological testing in an effort to determine the source of the person’s inattention, academic concerns or relational struggles. Oftentimes, people assume that if they can’t focus, it must be because of ADHD; or if they prefer to be alone, it must be because of autism. But it could be any number of reasons, such as trauma, anxiety, learning differences or a sensory processing issue.”
“Also, with psychological therapy, clients often struggle with unresolved trauma or grief and loss that presents as depression, negatively impacting relational, emotional, physical and financial health.”
“If we address mental illness, which people typically view as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia as opposed to depression, anxiety and substance abuse, we can positively impact human behavior and decision making.”
“Our desire is to also change the culture. Nowadays, every child seemingly wants to be a reality star or athlete – famous. It begs the question: are they desperate to feel seen because they aren’t seen at home, or is this a consequence of media messaging? In the end, people want to feel valuable, but what they don’t know is that the chance of actually being a professional athlete is very slim.”
“We want to expose them to more of their strengths and interests through our Series B.L.U.E. It stands for Better Living Utilizing Education. The program connects kids to the different fields of study by bringing in professionals from the community. This way, they may consider architecture, engineering, teaching, math, psychology, business and more. Those dreams are more attainable and more in line with their areas of natural interest and their gifts.”
“Not pursuing one’s purpose in life comes with grave consequences, including poor emotional, relational and financial health. With what we are bringing, we expect to reduce violence, too, as people will be happier and respectful of their fellow man.”
“Systemic barriers have had an impact on Black marriages. We went from having 70% of intact Black families – the most across any group in America – to now, it’s like 20%. When a child is raised by a single parent, oftentimes the streets end up teaching the child. If the streets are raising you, you obviously would not be taught properly which is why many of the youth that are raised by the streets do not consider life past 25 years of age. But the streets and even the media glamorize street life.”
“In the end, it has to start at home. Somebody’s got to get in and teach. That’s what our intention is. To fill in the gap as much as possible, with the hopes of reaching not just the youth but their parents, uncles and grandparents through mental health, exposure to different opportunities and occupations, and through fitness.”
“Our whole family is a part of what we want to offer at this community center. Our children are with us when we’re in the community; and they are always giving hugs, asking people how they are. When we have the new building, we’re going to call it ‘Blue Azul’ after them. Our son’s middle name is Blue and our daughter’s middle name is Azul, which means ‘blue’ in Spanish.”
“We want to be a role model. We hope that others will do the same through development to uplift and restore our communities to what they were.”
“In our current roles, we’re often inquiring about our athletes’ and students’ grades. You can’t even curse in our gym. We try to hold people accountable and operate with an appropriate standard so that our clients will be set apart. Oftentimes, parents and programs use our gym as an incentive for their child. And, if you think about it, it’s a true blessing to be the incentive.”
Valentina Marieyah Pacheco-Cornejo, Psy.D., ABPP, CMHIMP
Clinical psychologist, owner of Dr. Valentina LLC.
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