Emergency Medicine (EM) student Crispin Kingrey spent many years trying to find herself, both personally and professionally.
Graduating early from high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she gained early acceptance into Louisiana State University and took what she called a “random assortment of courses” in fields ranging from business to animal science.
She never graduated, mostly because she didn’t really know what she wanted to do.
Although her father was a paramedic, he discouraged her from enrolling in EMT school. “He was just being protective,” says Kingrey. “I’m only 5’3”, and he knew what I would encounter in this field. But his efforts were futile. I did it and I’m glad I did.”
“My first call was a cardiac arrest,” recalls Kingrey. “The adrenaline surge was unbelievable! I knew right then: This was my calling.”
In 2013 after a move to the greater Atlanta area, Kingrey met her husband Brandon, a training lieutenant with the City of Johns Creek Fire Department. Kingrey soon became a paramedic and eventually a Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C).
With a family of five children, the stress of caring for ailing parents who lived in two different states and a twin brother who is both mentally and physically disabled, it was easy for her to become caught up in the frenzy of everyday life. But Kingrey was still searching for something.
In 2020, she decided to finish her degree. “Maybe I just needed to prove I could do it,” Kingrey reflects.
It didn’t take long for her to find the University of Pittsburgh EM program.
When Kingrey first inquired, Pitt’s EM program was not online. But the pandemic changed how Pitt delivered its program. In the fall of 2021, at the age of 36, Kingrey enrolled as a virtual student in the EM program.
She was able to continue her job overseeing EMT training and education for the Georgia Office of EMS and Trauma while managing her family and completing her senior year of undergraduate work.
“I am constantly surprised at how relevant the coursework is to the work I do every day,” says Kingrey. “It has really expanded my knowledge base and helped me tremendously.”
“I am also so grateful for the support that my Pitt instructors have given me,” she continues. “Each one of them has shown a genuine interest in my success. They’ve been flexible when my work or family circumstances caused me to miss a synchronous class and do the work asynchronously instead. I’ve never had a college experience like this.”
Kingrey gives special credit to Adjunct Instructor Hilary Gates. While taking Gates’ Introduction to Community Health class, Kingrey delved into deep discussions on the stigma of certain illnesses and realized her own mental health was in a fragile state. She needed help.
“The occupation of EMS tends to attract people like Crispin who selflessly want to strive for excellence and save everyone,” observes Gates. “Sometimes, that comes at the expense of their own mental health and emotional needs.”
Kingrey sought out therapy and says it is making her a better paramedic. “There is so much more to a person’s story than what you first see,” she notes. “It’s important to look at what’s behind the story to help that person really heal.”
“As an educator, a paramedic and a human, I cannot say enough about the pride I feel knowing that Crispin had an epiphany, that she shared it with me and that this course makes a difference in people’s lives,” adds Gates.