VIEW ALL  BLOG POSTS

“Listen to Yourself,” The Rest Will Follow: Meet Dr. Scyatta Wallace

April 19, 2024
|
by Taylor Houston

Dr. Scyatta Wallace is the founder of the Janisaw Company and a trailblazer in the field of psychology. She has been featured in several notable media outlets, including CNN, Time, and Essence magazines. She has also received many accolades, including an award from the Women’s Division of the American Psychological Association. 

In our interview, Dr. Wallace gave us a look at what helps her achieve so much as she continues to strive while inspiring others. As a first-generation American with Liberian roots, Dr. Wallace faced many of the same challenges that Black and Brown women continue to encounter today.

However, her parents were so devoted to her and her brother’s success that they encouraged them to explore their curiosities early on. Dr. Wallace’s mother and father eagerly supported her early interest in science, giving her the freedom to dive into the multifaceted world of STEM to find her true passion. 

Dr. Wallace spent a lot of time shadowing teachers' assistants, professors, and colleagues in various labs across disciplines to get a taste of what the sciences had to offer. Her parents were supportive every step of the way. Eventually, she found solace in psychology. 

Since earning her Ph.D., Dr. Wallace has taken the psychology field by storm. Highlighting the importance of diversity, she shared how her unique upbringing as a first-generation woman influenced her experience and colleagues. 

Dr. Wallace’s upbringing as the daughter of immigrants has added a new perspective to the discourse and research she’s contributed to. Her own experience highlights the value of diversity in STEM and in all fields, giving us a chance to consider deeper and different questions that often dig up the need for change. 

Dr. Wallace was also a professor at St. John’s University where she bore witness to the importance of prioritizing our dreams over the goals and wishes of others, even our loved ones. She mentioned that there was a striking difference between the students who were following their hearts or following the wishes of others. In her case, Dr. Wallace’s parents’ loving support allowed her to blossom into her strengths, passions, and pursuits. She shared,  “If you’re doing things that are aligned with you, it’s easier to get through life and its challenges than when you’re pushing against yourself (doing something you don’t feel passionate about).”

One of Dr. Wallace’s most notable studies examined how various gender and race-based stereotypes, social pressures, and behaviors can negatively impact young Black girls’ self-esteem. The study, called “Gold Diggers, Video Vixens, and Jezebels: Stereotype Images and Substance Use Among Urban African American Girls,” brings awareness to social issues surrounding emotional wellness and potential health risks facing teenage Black girls. This study and others that Dr. Wallace and her colleagues have conducted continue to open doors for important conversations and lasting solutions for women and girls who are often overlooked. 

The study highlighted that one of the greatest remedies to harmful social pressures for Black youth lies in racial socialization. This form of race-based socialization is defined by the positive and lasting impact culturally empowering practices and experiences have on families and communities. One example includes educating our youth about accurate and inspiring culturally relevant people and events. Another small study cited in Dr. Wallace’s research revealed that Black youth who received messages and examples of Black pride and strength exhibited greater resiliency to harmful social pressures. By taking our identities into our own hands, it is easier to navigate the expectations and representations presented by the world as we become living examples of our innate excellence. 

As Dr. Wallace moves forward in her career, she continues to work with STEM students and professionals. As founder of the Janisaw Company, Dr. Wallace works directly with fellow founders and budding scientists alike,  particularly women and girls. She has also recently published a Success in Stem journal, a 52-week STEM journal to help young scientists stay organized and empowered. 

Amidst such mindful and consistent work, Dr. Wallace also shared how she has been finding ways to incorporate more rest into her routine rather than reaching burnout before considering true rest.

In a world where racism, sexism, and other detrimental social prejudices pollute our perspectives, it can be hard to make time to settle down. Many of the same harmful stereotypes and social pressures that Dr. Wallace explored in her study continue to affect Black women’s mental, physical, and financial wellness as we enter adulthood, even when we’ve already achieved greatness. Even when our loved ones are supportive and love us unconditionally. Even when we’ve achieved the American dream, it is up to us to make time for ourselves to embrace and enjoy our lives. This is much different from laziness, weakness, or anything else we may mislabel our need for rest and joy. 

Dr. Wallace continues to impact many lives while making the time to enjoy her own with her loving family and her teeming field of blossoming scientists. We look forward to seeing more of her groundbreaking work! 

 

crossmenu