Carl Sanon Recognizes the Importance of Mental Health for Black History Month

Carl Sanon

Carl Sanon believes working at the Ralph Lauren Center has allowed him to help the community in ways he never imagined.

2022 Black History Month Employee Profiles

Carl Sanon, Assistant Manager, Outpatient Operations, Ralph Lauren Center

When Carl was a junior at Binghamton University, he received an opportunity to work at MSK as a summer support intern. Initially, he saw it as a chance to make extra money, but the internship showed him that his passion for helping others could be utilized in less conventional ways. Who would have known this experience would sow the seeds for his career at MSK?

Carl’s Childhood

Carl’s family is an integral part of his life. As the only son and youngest child, he was always made to feel special. A Brooklyn native and first-generation American, Carl was raised to believe that he could accomplish anything. Carl’s parents migrated from Haiti to Canada and then to New York in search of better opportunities.

Carl with his family.

Carl with his family.

Carl credits his mom with helping him become the person he is today. She ensured that her children’s education was a top priority, working several jobs to pay for their private school.

“My mother displayed a level of tenacity that I admire more and more, and it fuels me,” says Carl. “It brings me back to my purpose. Her sacrifices for us could not be in vain.”

Carl had two father figures growing up. He went to an all-boys high school where he had the privilege of receiving support and guidance from two great mentors: his jazz band leader and his ensemble teacher. In addition to teaching him how to play the trumpet, they taught him the importance of creating a routine that would foster success.

As a child, Carl’s dream was to become a physician. After taking biology in college, he realized that medicine was not for him and he switched his major to psychology.

Carl’s MSK Career

Carl’s career at MSK has been an upward trajectory of new opportunities.

Three months after graduation, Carl started as a Care Coordinator in the Thoracic Oncology service at the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion (53rd Street).

“I always knew that I wanted to delve into healthcare, so when the opportunity presented itself, I was excited to be a part of MSK,” Carl says.

He then became a Care Coordinator 2 and eventually a Team Lead in Rehab Services.

Carl worked his way up to Assistant Manager in Outpatient Operations at the Ralph Lauren Center by the beginning of 2020. He had to contend with navigating COVID-19 while acclimating to a new position.

“While the impact of rising COVID-19 cases was overwhelming, especially in the beginning, I believe the pandemic allowed us to pause, recalibrate, and refocus on the most important things in life,” he says.

Working at the Ralph Lauren Center in Harlem has given him the opportunity to help the community in ways he never imagined.

“My role is to ensure that the patient is having as positive and seamless an experience as possible, and I feel that this is my calling,” Carl explains.

Carl is encouraging and supportive of his staff’s goals and careers. While he recognizes the importance of the care coordinator role, he knows that there are opportunities to develop and grow at MSK — his story is a testament to that. Carl is also one of the co-leads for Ambulatory Care’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group whose goals are to help build a sense of belonging, facilitate mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities, and provide the best care to a diverse patient population.

Dedication to Service

Carl and his Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity brothers at a Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Carl and his Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity brothers at a Thanksgiving Food Drive.

During his freshman year of college, Carl decided to join Kappa Alpha Psi, a fraternity founded in 1911 on the principles of service and achievement.  

“The fraternity’s history, motto, and brothers on campus have always resonated well with me,” says Carl. “Our motto is achievement in every field of human endeavor, and I believe it exemplifies a man that strives to be his best version, a man that I try to be each day. I recognized that the brothers on campus displayed these same characteristics and traits, whether that was through how they conducted themselves, campus involvement and community outreach, or overall prioritizing the welfare of those who were in need. They were like-minded and I always knew I wanted a brotherhood, so the decision was easy,” he reflects.

Carl utilized this platform to dive right into various community service projects, ranging from food drives to toy drives to youth mentorship. He always felt more purposeful in service of others.

Mental Health and Wellness

To Carl, “Health and Wellness” means challenging yourself to be the best version of yourself, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It means prioritizing self- care. 

“I reach out to my fraternity brothers for advice, council, accountability, and a shoulder to lean on,” he says. “A lot of men have difficulty with expressing their emotional intelligence and don’t talk about the things that bother them. This can create toxic masculinity.”

Carl continues: “I surround myself with like-minded men so I can be the best version of myself for my family, staff, and patients. It is important for men to have safe spaces to share their feelings.”

The Importance of Black History Month

“Black History Month is important because it is a time to pay homage to the great Black women and men who paved the way for Black Americans today,” says Carl. “Each February, the country has an opportunity to learn about the contributions of unsung Black heroes and celebrate those who laid the foundation for a better tomorrow.” Carl adds: “Black history is American history and it is woven into the fabric of this country. While it cannot be encapsulated into a month, it is a great reminder of the greatness and achievements of many individuals that have made it possible for me to be here.

For more information about services available at the Ralph Lauren Center, please click here.