Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Representation matters: Meet Dr. G!
Photographed by: MaofitPhotos
Dr. Guerda Nicolas, affectionately nicknamed by her students, “Dr. G.,” was born in Grand Goave, Haiti. She migrated to the U.S at the age of 16. Dr. Guerda is a Clinical Psychologist and a Professor at the University of Miami for the last twelve years.
From an early age, Dr. Guerda understood the interconnections between a person’s behavior and their mind, leading her to pursue an education in the field of psychology. She completed and received her Doctorate from Boston University; she discerned the lack of Black professors in academia and the importance of representation. During the second year of her Doctorate training, Dr. G.’s mentor fell ill, and she was given the opportunity to teach his undergraduate class as his doctoral advisee. While teaching, Dr. G. realized her love for education and her desire to become a professor.
As a Psychologist, Dr. G. has worked with the Haitian community in Haiti. She provides clinical work and educates the community on mental health, mental wellness, and overall mental well-being. Being a Black professor and a woman of color enables her to provide training, an open space for those who look like her, especially immigrants and women of color, allowing them to see and experience a sense of belonging.
Dr. Guerda is the Co-Founder and President of Ayiti Community Trust, Haiti's first community foundation based on an endowment model to support grassroots organizations In Haiti. An endowment is a donation to a non-profit organization, which uses the generated income from the investment or a specific purpose. The mission of Ayiti Community Trust is to support and sustain development and innovation in Ayiti in three distinctive areas: civic education, environment, and entrepreneurship. The endowment is designed to keep the principal amount intact while utilizing the investment income to fund these grassroots projects in Haiti continuously. "It is the gift that keeps on giving," says Dr. G.
Dr. G. believes that Haitians can come together and build a fund proudly created by Haitians for Haitians. Ayiti Community Trust was created with that mindset.
“You can see where your funds are going.”
Ayiti Community Trust partners with the Miami Foundation, one of the oldest community organizations in Miami, to support that vision. The funds raised go directly to the Foundation, which then invests it as a part of their portfolio; yield is used for grantmaking.
"We have to develop a mentality of investment. We must develop a civil mindset to make people realize Ayiti se Pam li ye. Ayiti is my country. Civic Education needs to be done collectively to provide a long-lasting impact in the Country."
Faithfully, for over two decades, Dr. G. has made it her mission to visit different places in Haiti, training Physicians and Nurses, teaching them about psychological issues monthly. The purpose is to find and understand problems in the patients like anxiety, depression and how these medical conditions affect the body and can potentially trigger a cascade of other diseases.
When asked for advice for our readers, Dr. G said:
"Quiet the noises around you! Get in tune with your inner voice; don't be bothered by what the world & others think of you! Stay true to yourself! You can never go wrong when you listen to your inner voice."
Working towards a better future for Haitians, caring about the mental well-being of our community, and championing representation is why Dr. Guerda Nicolas is a Fanm Potomitan.