Just the Start: Neuroscience Major to Embark on Career in Neuro Rehab

Emmie Santoleri’s college and career plan started something like this:

Step 1: Complete a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience (NEU) while enjoying a successful soccer career at LVC - ✔️

Step 2: Earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy - ✔️

Step 3: Pass national board certification exam

Step 4: Embark on the career of her dreams in neurorehabilitation

Santoleri ’18 arrived at LVC as a biology major because she enjoyed the subject, but she still wasn’t sure what her future would look like. Nevertheless, she was confident in her decision to choose The Valley, immediately feeling right at home with her new teammates on the women’s soccer team.

“I came on an overnight visit where I fell in love with the team atmosphere and the campus as a whole. After I met with admissions, I found out about the different scholarship opportunities as well as the science department, and everything seemed to fall into place from there,” she said.

“My favorite part of being an athlete was that I felt like a part of the LVC community as soon as I started preseason my freshman year. I made a lot of friends that way,” added Santoleri, who earned Middle Atlantic Conference all-conference honors in her senior season.

The impact of Santoleri’s time playing soccer also found its way into her studies, forcing her to become adept at time management and organization. As she settled into a routine with soccer, Santoleri also found her place academically, thanks to caring faculty.

“I talked to my advisor, Dr. [Erica] Unger, about changing my major, and it was the best decision for me. The subject matter was all so interesting to me, and it really helped me develop a plan for my future,” said Santoleri.

In her new major, Santoleri built a sturdy foundation for taking on her master’s degree. She completed multiple research projects, gaining experience compiling and presenting scientific research, and completing observation hours for graduate school through an internship at the Vista School in Hershey. 

“It was the best experience for me, and there wasn’t a class or professor that I didn’t like,” she said. “You learn so much and leave each class with a new appreciation for the subject matter. The NEU program also prepares students for a future in so many different careers and graduate programs. My LVC experiences set the foundation for me to get accepted and succeed in grad school.”

Santoleri earned her master’s in occupational therapy from Gwynedd Mercy University this past May and is currently studying for her certification exam. Her ultimate career goal is to work as an occupational therapist in an acute hospital setting or neuro-rehab in any degree to help people regain function and participation in their valued occupations following neuro-trauma.


-- Darby Seymour, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant