Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Alvin H. Crawford

alvin-crawfordDr. Alvin H. Crawford has been giving to NMF quietly for over 20 years—at NMF, we recently met with him in person at our New York office. He was gracious enough to share his story with us, and we are now able to take pride in his numerous successes, as we were able to contribute to them so many years ago.

In 1962, Alvin H. Crawford, then 22 years old, left Meharry Medical College to attend the University of Tennessee College of Medicine—going from a historically black college to a racially segregated university.  This was a first:  before Crawford applied, it was said that there were no minority candidates “qualified” to meet the standards of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. Dr. Crawford’s mother, a nurse, was contacted by the President of the NAACP Memphis Branch, who was a physician, to get permission to use his MCAT scores to submit an application. Dr. Crawford had the grades to qualify—and he was admitted, although not allowed to transfer because Meharry Medical College was not considered to be an accredited medical school.

Growing up with the determination and confidence of a musician, with a knack for science and math, Dr. Crawford was fortunate to have supportive family and teachers as a backbone for his early success. He felt encouraged even in the 6th grade, surrounded by those who reinforced his academic excellence. He made a decision to not fall victim to social or racial barriers—something students still struggle with today.


(Crawford, age 6.)

 I’d like for a child in the 6th grade to know what is possible if they have a desire to help others, and helping others can mean many things – that child should grow up under whatever conditions (will help him or her do that) 

In addition to having a distinguished medical career, Dr. Crawford has made it his mission to mentor future healthcare leaders. He never wants any student to feel defeated by their circumstances, or as if their dreams and goals are invalid. Having won numerous awards recognizing his commitment and excellence in orthopaedic surgery, he has also been awarded for his commitment to mentoring. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons presented Dr. Crawford with the Diversity Award: an award commemorating his accomplishments in mentoring over 50 diverse scholars after receiving his doctorate degree.

Dr. Crawford has authored 67 chapters, 7 books, and over 200 articles over the course of his career. As one of the most renowned pediatric orthopaedic surgeons in the world, he has given lectures at over 80 national and international institutions He continues to practice medicine at three hospitals in the Cincinnati area. For 29 years, Dr. Crawford was the Director of Orthopaedic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he founded the Crawford Spine Center. He also serves on the Board of Directors for various nonprofits in the Cincinnati area, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He plays the clarinet and is currently enrolled in the preparatory class at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music; and he performs at various events around the state.

Dr. Crawford has been a generous donor to NMF over many years.  His commitment is based in family values: “My mother made me aware of my obligation to give back. I had very strong family values, and have no choice but to succeed in giving back and helping people. I started giving back to NMF early on in my career, and plan to continue.”

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