During February, Stephens College will highlight successful Black alumnae and students who have made an impact in Columbia and beyond.

LaDonna Crusby graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Marketing and Management. She currently works as a store manager for TJX Companies, one of the largest off-price retailers. While she has found success in the retail and fashion industry, LaDonna also volunteers as a guest speaker to advocate for survivors of sexual violence. She has been featured in both the COMO magazine and the San Diego Union-Tribune for her volunteer work.

LaDonna received her Associate of Arts degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Diego. However, after realizing that a bachelor’s degree was required if she wanted to get into executive training programs with major retailers like Robinson’s May or Macy’s, she decided to move back to her hometown of Columbia and enroll at Stephens.

LaDonna says, “It was the best decision I ever made for my career! I loved my experience at Stephens.” 

Stephens allowed her to further her education in a field that she loves. The fun and engaging classes at Stephens, coupled with her instructors, helped her get career ready after graduation. Now, she finds pride in her ability to impact leadership with her strong work ethic and ability to connect easily with others.

In addition to her career in the fashion industry, LaDonna has found her true passion and purpose in helping others. A survivor of sexual violence herself, she dedicates her time to speaking and working with nonprofits that focus on ending sexual violence. Currently, she volunteers at San Diego State University and the San Diego Regional Police Academy as a guest speaker.

She recently received the annual Courage Award (an honor given to a domestic or sexual violence survivor who goes above and beyond in their community to help other survivors) from the Center for Community Solutions for sharing her journey.

LaDonna is in the process of starting her own non-profit organization that she hopes to officially launch this summer, the 30th anniversary of her kidnapping. Her non-profit will provide scholarships for survivors of sexual violence who are actively volunteering and making a difference in their communities.

In addition to her non-profit, LaDonna wrote a children’s book reflecting her thoughts while being held captive. She hopes to help other survivors find their voices so they feel comfortable discussing their trauma.

Her advice to students is to become the leader that they would want around them. She believes that human connection is important if you want to impact other people's lives.

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