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Doctoral student receives coveted distinguished scholarship award

Sofia Espana Perez, Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology doctoral major, is one of only four recipients who was selected for the 2021 WVU Foundation Distinguished Doctoral Scholarship, as announced by the Office of Graduate Education and Life.

OGEL says that graduate students provide incredibly valuable research, teaching and services to the WVU campus and the greater Morgantown community. OGEL provides the awards to help these highly qualified students defray the costs of their education and promote the dissemination of their research to a broader audience.

“It is a great privilege to receive this scholarship. The award has helped me feel more confident in myself as a researcher and has affirmed my professional ambitions of empowering women using sport. It has also helped alleviate some of the financial burden of pursuing a doctorate. I am deeply grateful for this honor,” Espana Perez said.

Espana Perez, from Mexico City, is a 2014 graduate from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s in psychology, minor in sociology and a 2017 graduate from Minnesota State University with a masters in sport, exercise and performance psychology.

“I chose the CPASS Ph.D. Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology program because it is one of the best ones in the USA and it offers a master’s in counseling,” she said.

Espana Perez’s research focuses on exploring sport for development programming to empower women in Mexico through soccer. “As a Mexican woman I know how difficult it can be for these women to have a voice. Based on my personal experiences in sport, I have found it to be a great means through which to build leadership and empowerment skills as well as to involve men in advocating for social change,” she explained.

Espana Perez credits her advisor, Dean Jack Watson, for his ongoing support of her academic journey. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking and scenery around Morgantown and West Virginia.

Espana Perez suggests that up and coming students interested in research should find a topic that is meaningful. “Be clear about your ‘why’ and the barriers will be easier to overcome,” she added.

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