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Because Hamiltonians Chase Stories: Helen Santoro ’15


She picked Hamilton partly because she loved to write, but Helen Santoro ’15 majored in neuroscience and figured she would eventually earn a doctorate in that subject. She was well on her way when she flipped her career.

While working in a neuroscience research lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, Santoro realized that she’d rather talk about science than do science. That dawned after she created a website (with the help of her tech-savvy girlfriend, who is now her wife) to communicate the work that the lab was doing. She loved doing interviews and blogging about the work. 

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Santoro left the lab to enter a master’s degree program in science communications at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2018. From there, a fellowship at High Country magazine took her to Colorado, where she settled in Gunnison and launched a freelance career.

She focuses on health, medicine, and LGBTQ+ communities, and has written for Audubon Magazine, Slate, Smithsonian Magazine, and WIRED, among other publications. Santoro's forte is investigative reporting. Her recent work includes a piece for Kaiser Health News about how the Affordable Care Act and subsidized health-insurance plans often don't include gender-affirming care and how that affects transgender patients. “That's more the kind of work that I want to do moving forward,” Santoro says.

In July, she received a Curve Award for Emerging Journalists from The Curve Foundation and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. The award honors journalists for “fair and accurate coverage that elevates the voices of LGBTQ women.” The award came with a $5,000 grant, mentorship, and other professional development. “That's been extremely helpful. I have some thoughts about stories that I really want to write, specifically about the trans community, that the Curve Foundation said they can support me on,” she says.

Santoro aspires to be known and respected for her coverage of transgender health care. “I would really love to help trans people bring more of a voice to their struggles,” she says.

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