Mateus Pinho


1) Please explain what you do for living.

I am a student at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a degree in Bioengineering with a minor in Chemistry and Polymer Engineering.

2) How important in your identity is being Latino?

If I could quantify how important being a Latino is to me, I'd say it accounts for 60% of my identity. I grew up speaking Portuguese, going to Brazil in the summers, and spending time with Brazilian family friends here in Pittsburgh, so a good chunk of my time has been embodying Latino culture. Specifically speaking, I have spent countless weekends with my parents and their Brazilian/Latino family friends, and just enjoying the food they cooked and the general culture. Unfortunately, now that I am a college student, I'd say my Latino identity has dropped to maybe 30%, but this is simply due to the academic environment in college. However, I am in organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where I can explore my Latino identity in a professional setting.

3) Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?

Being Brazilian, I value the rich culture that I've been exposed to throughout my life. I am privileged to have been able to travel to Brazil several times, see different environments like the remote Amazon rainforest, and bustling cities like Sao Paulo and Rio. Simply having the exposure to Latino culture has helped me gain innumerable learning experiences. In a more professional setting, my Latin roots have also helped me connect with my international colleagues in my research lab simply due to the similarities in our languages and cultures. My international background helps give me something I can always talk about no matter what setting I'm in.

4) Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)? If so, can you describe a situation?

Thankfully I haven't had many experiences where I've been treated differently in a negative way. My Latino background often draws a lot of curiosity from people I meet. When I first meet people they usually ask about my past, when I moved to the United States, etc. One situation where I was treated poorly due to my identity was between flights. Prior to gaining US citizenship, TSA and border control workers sometimes would say witty remarks when referencing my younger brother, who was born in the US. I'm sure these remarks were made with no ill will, but still struck me as rude.