Sophia is a student in the College of Arts and Science with hopes to major in Psychology and minor in Creative Writing. She is very interested in the wellness and dialogue aspects of the Program and the SNF Paideia designated courses Grit Lab and Positive Psychology, which focus on building resilience and self-confidence. Sophia applied to be an SNF Paideia Fellow in part because the Program will help her develop the dialogic skills, knowledge and practices needed to succeed in fostering dialogue among young people and bridging the gap between health care providers and patients. She is pursuing this interest through her work as a research assistant in clinical psychology and implementation science with an overall goal of improving youth mental health services. She believes the Program will give her the space to pursue her academic interests while integrating experiential tools for engaging across differences and becoming a more well-rounded citizen.
Sophia’s interest in cultivating the practice of dialogue stems from her experience as the founder and president of a mental health initiative at her high school. The group focused on building resilience in teens with anxiety and depression. “It was a challenge in the beginning to figure out how to foster open conversation with all these people who had never really opened up to their peers or families. Over several sessions, I began to realize there wasn’t an exact blueprint for dialogue across difference, but that what mattered was being willing to meet people where they are and then move on from there.” Sophia understands the value of creating a space in which people can speak their mind in a way that is respectful and conscientious of themselves and others. She wishes to empower others to notice their own agency and ability to create change, both on the individual and community level.
In the fall of 2022 Sophia published a book with fellow Penn student Gemma Hong, C’24, titled, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Puberty—and Shouldn’t Learn on TikTok: For Curious Girls.” The book provides girls with an accurate, engaging, and inclusive book that normalizes and destigmatizes talking about physical, social, and emotional changes during puberty. Sophia is the recipient of the Kelly Writers House Faculty Director’s Grant for Summer 2023 to intern at an outpatient brain injury program. She will study how people are able (or not able) to talk about the trauma that led to their brain injury and how that impacts recovery.
She looks forward to continuing practicing these skills as a SNF Paideia Fellow and not just through verbal conversation, but through other creative mediums as well. Her background in creative writing provides Sophia an artistic perspective of dialogue, one that can take many different formats such as poetry, art, and music.