Psychologist delivers powerful lesson on coping

LIMA — Families are the fundamental building blocks of society. Strong, healthy families can contribute to the well-being and happiness of individuals and communities. Dr. Andrea Mata spoke to the Women in Business luncheon Thursday about her mission to help families by starting BrightSpot Families and her motivation to do so.

Growing up in the south side of Chicago where gangs flourished, her Mexican family had strong family roots. The tight-knit family grew up under a strong parental influence. She was close to her older brother, Cisco, for a time sharing a room. As she grew, many of her peers turned to drugs and gangs before entering high school.

Mata wondered why she and her brothers were able to defy the norm — that Mexican-Americans have some of the lowest achievement rates — to become successful citizens.

In 1995 at age 11 she finally got her own room. Two older brothers were away at college. Her brother Cisco was living at home. One night Cisco failed to come home. “Two police officers delivered the news. I remember a blur of words – Cisco’s body, forest preserve, murdered,” Mata told the women.

There were two years of court proceedings. Eventually the man who was charged was ultimately convicted of first degree murder. At 13, Mata got to confront the convicted man. She explained how his choices and behavior impacted her life.

The judge refused to give the death penalty because the man had a rough life. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison but only served 27.

Mata shared her feelings, “I sat there flabbergasted at the idea that the judge attributed this murderer’s heinous act to a rough childhood and right then and there I had my ‘never again’ moment. Never again would I allow my brother’s death to be in vain.”

That act transformed the young girl’s life. Fortifying families, creating high quality families became her mission. Ten years of schooling led to a degree as a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of antisocial and aggressive behavior.

Mata told the ladies, “You’re in charge of how you spend your money, time and resources. People need to know that they’re a lot more powerful than some would like us to believe. A victim mentality doesn’t serve you, it paralyzes you … There’s always something you can do to better your life and the life of your family.”

She said that if you want to change your world, start with your family. Then when kids marry and have a family with a quality life, it grows exponentially.

“Then more and more ripples and then maybe our great-grandchildren can live in a society where an 11-year-old girl doesn’t lose her best friend because some one had a rough life.”

Fortifying families can contribute to building strong, healthy families that can withstand the challenges of life.

Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409

Dean Brown
Dean Brown joined The Lima News in 2022 as a reporter. Prior to The Lima News, Brown was an English teacher in Allen County for 38 years, with stops at Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Heir Force Community School. So they figured he could throw a few sentences together about education and business in the area. An award-winning photographer, Brown likes watching old black and white movies, his dog, his wife and kids, and the four grandkids - not necessarily in that order. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0409.