Dr. Regina Musicaro, one of this year’s SUNY New Paltz Forty Under 40 Honorees, was selected by the college’s award committee based on her ambition, innovation, and leadership within the field of Psychology. Dr. Musicaro is currently a postdoctoral associate at the Yale Child Study Center working on a clinical trial for youth with anxiety.
Dr. Musicaro is a New Yorker at heart. She was raised by a single mom and lived in a neighborhood designated as a “Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Area.” Students from these areas obtain college degrees at significantly lower rates than students with more privilege , and are less likely to be represented in research. Dr. Musicaro has succeeded despite facing many hardships. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Suffolk University as an Outreach Fellow. Suffolk is a social justice-oriented institution whose mission is to serve students that under-represented in higher education. In addition to scholarly achievement, she started a graduate school a Capella group called Cohen’s d Major, which is a play on words that combines musical and statistical terms.
Evidenced by her personal and professional background, Dr. Musicaro is a fierce advocate for social justice. Through all of her experiences, her mission has remained unchanged: to be a part of the solution to society’s most pervasive problems and to express love along the way. “Systems are hard to change so expressing love goes a long way in those moments where you feel helpless to make a dent in big problems.” Over the years, Dr. Musicaro has intentionally stepped outside of her comfort zone in an effort to view the world beyond her own perspective.
One experience that significantly shaped her path was a volunteer trip to Haiti, where she recalls going to a market where people were barefoot and dressed in rags. "A few of them had clothes that were clearly donated from the United States with phrases like, "Michigan Little League." A man was carrying an unbearably large load of potatoes on his back. It was a stark view of the world’s inequality.”
After returning, she moved to a segregated neighborhood to live in an intentional living community house. Her goal was to learn from this community, collaborate, and give some of her resources to people who were being systemically oppressed. “I had grown up around diversity, but I was never immersed in the most segregated neighborhoods where most residents don’t leave, and most outsiders don’t enter,” she says. “I was deeply inspired by friends and neighbors who, despite significant inequality, modeled resilience, confidence, self-love, faith, interconnectedness, appreciation of beauty, and courage.”
Dr. Musicaro comments on what we can do as individuals to affect systemic change. Beyond marching in protest, she says, “I believe that social justice requires sacrificially spending our time, money, and energy…leaving our comfort zone feeling uncomfortable with our implicit racism, using our voices when it empowers others, and being quiet when it empowers others.”
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