She’s paving the way for others to come after her!
Cindy Crusto, Ph.D., is making history as the first Black woman professor in Yale Psychiatry history, Yale School of Medicine reports.
Crusto has always had an affinity for children, taking an interest in their well-being as a high schooler. She got her start working at her mother’s Montessori early care and education center in New Orleans. It wasn’t until after her first psychology class as a senior in high school that she realized she’d discovered her passion. From then on, she dedicated her career to helping people overcome adversity.
“I think we’re all the product of a cumulation of risks and protective factors. I’ve had my share of both in my life, and I’ve always been interested in how we can prevent or mitigate the impact of some of those negative life experiences,” Crusto said.
She made sure she was well-rounded, studying political science, sociology, history, and Africana studies in the interest of creating a career for herself in community and clinical psychology. In 1999, she came to Yale as a member of the Doctoral Internship in Clinical & Community Psychology, focusing her work on addressing the socioeconomic challenges facing children and families of color. More than two decades later, Crusto has been promoted to Professor of Psychiatry, making history as the first Black woman ever to hold the title in the Yale School of Medicine history.
“There were many people who came before me who worked just as hard or harder than me, and so I have complex feelings about my accomplishment. I know I worked extraordinarily hard to develop and carry out my career plan, and I am immensely proud. I was fortunate to have had mentorship, sponsorship, and advocacy, but at the same time, I have to remember we’re in this system that does not provide that for everyone, especially women and racial and ethnic minorities. I do feel an immense responsibility, and I’m thinking of what I can do daily to help someone else get to this point,” Crusto said.
Crusto is a champion for change, utilizing her knowledge in community-engaged research and trauma research to inform her work on an individual and macro level. She serves as deputy chair for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the department of psychiatry and co-chair of the Yale School of Medicine minority organization for retention and expansion (MORE). She is also a member of the executive committee of the Yale School of Medicine committee on the status of women in medicine (SWIM), and deputy Title IX coordinator at Yale.
She hopes that her work will help impact system-wide change within the school of medicine and that she can disrupt “deeply held and ingrained patterns that perpetuate inequities.”
“Yale School of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry were not developed for women, people of color, or other diverse groups. These spaces can be inconsistent with our ways of being and knowing. Diversity, equity, and inclusion work is about making those systems more responsive to and reflective of those differences. These are the things that impact people’s ability to realize their goals or progress in the system. I’m trying to level the playing field and to eradicate the barriers people face,” Crusto said.
Congratulations, Dr. Crusto! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of the Yale School of Medicine