Theresa Soya

Theresa Soya, MPH Class of '19


University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health Program, 2019—expected 

The College of New Jersey, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, 2016


Favorite thing about Philly: The city’s pace 


During undergrad, Theresa spent a summer working for the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she fell in love with the city. The New Jersey native isn’t a fan of large, fast-paced cities, but she found in Philly she was able to set her own pace.

“I had spent a lot of time, just coincidentally on Penn’s campus because of how close my building was. So when the time to start looking at graduate schools came around and I found that Penn had an MPH Program, I already felt like I had a miniature home here,” Theresa said.  “And researching into the program a little bit more and just the connections that I think Penn and Philadelphia have to public health missions and to public health efforts, seemed like a perfect fit.”

Theresa, who was on the generalist track, took courses part-time while working full-time as a Research Coordinator at Penn Injury Science Center. There, she works on a number of different projects but a majority of her time has been spent working on a school violence study. Though her ultimate passions and research interests are injury science, sport injury, and recovery.

Combining her interests with the scope of her current work, she was able to complete a Capstone project—a culminating experience required for graduation from the MPH Program—examining concussion data in lacrosse and looking at differences with sex and how athletes are exposed to concussion. Her project, titled “Protective equipment and concussion in lacrosse: Findings from the Ivy League-Big 10 Epidemiology of Concussion Study,” allowed her to conduct original research, which she went on to present at conferences. 

Although she submitted an abstract and presented at a conference during her undergraduate studies, the process during her Capstone experience was much different.

“In undergrad, my professors really held our hands during the process, but the Capstone project did a very nice job of giving you the opportunity to actually figure out things for yourself,” Theresa said. “I wrote an IRB protocol for the first time and a manuscript from front to back on my own for the first time.”

Another rewarding experience in the program for her were various Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions she held for a number of courses. Through those experiences, she was able to get to know her professors on a deeper level.

“Through connections in the program, they connected me with fieldwork and research opportunities which has enhanced my public health education ten fold,” she said.

Her research interest in sport is mirrored into her personal life, where she has been involved with the Special Olympics community for about eight years. She also enjoys playing basketball, running, and dogs. 


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