Employee Spotlight - Sofia Morales

Photo of Sofia Morales
June 30, 2021
What is your current role at Yale University?
I work at Yale School of Public Health where I am Program Manager of Research and Evaluation. I engage in health equity research with the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE) and the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center (Y-G PRC).
What are your main responsibilities?
In my role I am responsible for coordinating and overseeing programmatic and research activities related to various ongoing projects and studies. This involves supporting several CDC-funded research studies, including the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) project, as well as some innovative work taking place at the Y-G PRC. 
Our core study at the Y-G PRC is an implementation science research project that will assess the feasibility for implementing a virtually-delivered Diabetes Prevention Program (v-DPP) to adults with limited economic resources who are at risk for type 2 diabetes, and who are residents of New Haven or the Lower Naugatuck Valley. The virtual program delivery will be facilitated locally by community health workers (CHWs) and hospital-based community nurses (HCNs), who will provide care coordination to help identify and address barriers to successful program participation.
What do you like most about your work?
I very much enjoy the many different hats I get to wear in my role. There is an administrative component, which includes coordinating the administrative day-to-day operations of multiple research projects. There is a science component, with running descriptive and inferential statistics, analyzing data, and writing reports. There is a mentoring component, through which I get to support graduate students and interns in their career development. And there is also a community collaboration component, where I get to develop and cultivate community partnerships that can inform our research. Needless to say, I am rarely ever bored! 
How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
Working toward equity and advocating for social justice serve as my guiding light, and I center this throughout all the work I do. In this way, I would not say that my job affects my life, but that I have chosen this job because it so perfectly aligns with my life. I am excited to do this work every day, and I consider myself lucky to have found a career that is so stimulating and fulfilling. 
How did you begin your career?
I am originally from Puerto Rico. I am honored and humbled to have received my Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus. In fact, that is where I started my career. Through my MPH program, I was recruited to take on the role of Street Medicine Program Coordinator for a wonderful nonprofit organization in Puerto Rico known as Iniciativa Comunitaria. That was a challenging and demanding job, but one that truly delineated my path and completely changed my life. 
I have now been living in New Haven for 6 years, where I have continued working within the field of public health. Prior to coming to Yale, I worked at the two federally qualified community health centers in the city: Fair Haven Community Health Care and Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. I started in my current job at Yale this past January, and I’m absolutely loving it!
What steps would you recommend one take to prepare to enter this field?
This field is quite vast and expansive—there is so much you can do within public health! I would encourage anyone that is interested in public health to start off by volunteering.
What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
Technical skills are of great importance, but I want to elevate the importance of “soft” skills. First and foremost, communication skills are crucial in this field. This includes both verbal as well as written communication. Additionally, teamwork is essential—you need to play well with others in order to get things done efficiently and effectively. And last but not least, critical thinking and a willingness to learn will position you to succeed in this, or in any, field. 
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
All my past experiences were instrumental in my formation as a public health professional and as a person. So, in all honestly, I would not change a thing.
What does YLNG mean to you and how have you contributed as a member of the Steering Committee?
Representation matters, and affinity spaces are vital for fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a new member of YLNG, I’m grateful for the opportunities to connect with other Latinx people at Yale, and I look forward to becoming more active and involved with the phenomenal programming being offered by the group.