In addition to pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy at Jefferson, Allison Tuso will help fire up crowds at the Linc.
Allison Tuso still remembers donning a yellow-and-black uniform as a 6-year-old cheerleader for the local Pop Warner football team in Moorestown, N.J.
Though her family moved from South Jersey to California when she was in high school, they remain diehard fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now that she’s back in Philadelphia, in her third year of pursuing a doctorate in occupational therapy at Jefferson, those memories—and that fandom—have come full circle.
Over the course of the past two months, Tuso survived several elimination rounds in virtual tryouts for the Eagles Cheer Team. The competition, which featured 576 candidates from 23 states and four countries, marked the first time the team conducted tryouts in this fashion, but safety came first amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 17, she learned she was one of eight women and men who earned a spot on the squad. Suffice it to say, this came as welcomed news.
“Everybody in my family is so ecstatic. We’re all Eagles fans, and now, they have a personal connection to the team,” says Tuso, who earned her BS in child development from California Polytechnic State University, where she juggled academics with her time on the cheer team. “I love the excitement of game days and being around the fans. It’s great to get that feeling back. Being an Eagles Cheer Team member is truly a dream come true.”
Though she missed the aura of nervousness and excitement that accompanies in-person tryouts, the plus side is that it enabled more people to take a shot at fulfilling their dreams.
She’s also happy that she’ll be the reason that Eagles’ game days have more of a Jefferson feel than ever before.
Tuso’s schedule will be filled with her occupational-therapy studies and dance team practices, games and appearances. She embraces a busy calendar since cheer provides a valuable work-to-fun balance.
I am a passionate advocate for the autism community, and I now have an opportunity to represent an organization that supports the autism community. — Allison Tuso
“It’s a great way to escape the studying, to be with friends and to have a good time,” she says. “It’s a great outlet for my well-being.”
In her first year at Jefferson—which she says offered both “an amazing” occupational therapy program and a path to return home to her beloved Philly—Tuso helped start the Autism Advocacy Group. That club connects students with the autism community, with which she has personal ties, including working as a behavioral aide for a young girl with autism.
Tuso not only plans to get involved with the Eagles Autism Foundation but, upon graduation in May 2021, hopes to be an occupational therapist focused on helping those with autism.
“I am a passionate advocate for the autism community, and I now have an opportunity to represent an organization that supports the autism community,” she says. “Being a part of the Eagles organization while earning my doctorate in occupational therapy enables me to further help those affected by autism. I’ve participated previously in the Eagles Autism Challenge and can’t wait to now participate as an Eagles Cheer Team member. That’s where my passion lies.”