Black girls stay winning. This week, we’re shining a much-deserved spotlight on Soleil Saint-Cyr, who has made history as the youngest girl to ever have a crossword puzzle published in the New York Times. Saint-Cyr is a senior in high school and is the 2020-2021 class president at New Jersey’s esteemed The Lawrenceville School. She is also an honor student who plays lacrosse.
In honor of Black History Month, The New York Times selected 6 Black puzzle makers to craft the word puzzles for feature in the publication. They worked on the puzzles for Feb. 1 through February 6 and Saint-Cyr’s was the first one published. She completed the task when she was 17 and turned 18 on February 13, 2021.
She received compensation for her excellent work.
“I was really excited. It was surreal,” said Saint-Cyr, 18, to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I thought it could be a possibility. You can only hope that the New York Times would like it.” The write up also revealed that she only began making puzzles last year as a way to pass the time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellow puzzle constructor Ross Trudeau taught Saint-Cyr how to create puzzles after she messaged him on Twitter and asked him how it was done. When talking to the Inquirer, Trudeau spoke on how young linguists are bringing the nuances of Black language to the forefront of puzzle making, which hasn’t always been inclusive.
“I am super excited to be making my New York Times Crossword debut, as well as being the person kicking off Black Constructors’ week!,” Saint-Cyr said to the New York Times. “I am also very honored that my puzzle makes me the youngest female constructor ever published in The Times.”
Photo credit: The Lawrenceville School