My name is Savannah Santana. I am from Lakewood, Colorado graduating with a B.A. in Psychology, a Certificate in Public Health, and two minors in Dance and Leadership. In my free time I like to stay active by exercising and dancing, I also enjoy singing, watching movies with my family, and practicing mindfulness! I am interested in the promotion of health and social equity, specifically within underrepresented populations and adolescents. I study resilience in trauma-exposed youth with Dr. Karl Hill and Kimberly Shipman in the Institute of Behavioral Science at CU. As I wrap up my senior year, I am also helping create the first online, world-survey geared towards the emerging community of Transnational Fusion dance under the guidance of Dr. Donna Mejia. I plan to pursue my PhD in Developmental Psychology and integrate my passion for public health as a prevention scientist in order to further the accessibility and efficacy of health resources for all. My hope is to create and directly implement a culturally responsive intervention to promote resilience and social emotional competence in foster care youth.


Trauma-exposed youth endure life-long health and behavioral implications that could be significantly alleviated with the proper self-regulating tools to combat adversity. My research explores developmental resilience and cultural responsiveness in the context of the Let’s Connect intervention for trauma-exposed families. Survey response entry and behavior coding of the parent’s intervention skills were integral first-steps to understand resilience development. Afterwards, I conducted a Latinx-focused literature review emphasizing cultural influences over social emotional competence and resilience development. So far, I have found that focus groups are especially effective in enhancing our understanding of barriers in resiliency development and integrating cultural constructs that hold value for Latinx communities. By understanding the cultural dimensions of trauma-exposed youth, resilience interventions can be tailored to elicit more effective, positive health outcomes.

Research Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Karl Hill, Professor
Dr. Hill's Bio
Psychology, Neuroscience, Institute of Behavioral Science