Founder of OUTreach Denton and PRIDENTON, associate director of TWU’s Counseling and Psychological Services program
Dr. Carmen Cruz has dedicated her life to standing up for marginalized and oppressed populations.
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Photo courtesy of Wesley Kirk
y heart has always been into raising the voices of people that have less of a voice in our culture,” says Dr. Carmen Cruz, founder of OUTreach Denton, the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the city, and PRIDENTON, the city’s annual Pride event. Cruz initially moved to Denton from her hometown of Miami for what she thought was a one-year doctoral internship at Texas Woman’s University. Now, 22 years later, she has become a vital part of the community she calls home. “What made me stay was mostly TWU and the potential for growing the [counseling] program here,” says Cruz, who is now associate director and director of training at the schools’ Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program. She is also on the clinical faculty of the psychology and philosophy department and has a private psychology practice. “I saw that I could grow the diversity initiatives within the campus because there were very few.” As a Cuban-American and out lesbian, Cruz understands diversity challenges well. She realized that she had the experience to move the marker of acceptance a little farther in the right direction while satisfying her natural tendency to stand up for those who are marginalized or oppressed. “It wasn’t something I was taught, so I’ve thought about it a lot,” she says. “I’m not sure where it came from, but I always felt like I had to speak up for others.”