About Me

A headshot of Sonja wearing a bright red blazer. She has short blonde hair and is channeling a rockstar look.

April 2021. Photo by Ty Chen.

In the academy. In the world. In the woods. These are three places you’ll find me, exploring, listening, and learning. As of April 2021, I am excited about exploring new possibilities of meaningful, student-centered work.

I have these qualifications:

  • Experience creating and managing study abroad programs for over 7 years
  • Experience providing data-driven international exchange student support for over 7 years
  • Experience teaching ESL and EFL for over 5 years
  • Experience teaching rhetoric/composition, academic English for 3 years
  • Experience living in 6 countries and traveling in 6 continents

Previously, as the Director of Education Abroad at Cal State San Bernardino and the Education Abroad Coordinator at Cal State LA, I advised outbound and inbound exchange students, liaised with international exchange partners, led study abroad information sessions, organized and delivered pre-departure orientations, communicated with faculty to develop, market, and budget faculty-led courses abroad, collaborated with colleagues to develop a strategic marketing plan, served on the Study Abroad Faculty Learning Community, and supervised four to six student assistants each term.

Examples of my work include:

  • Program growth: Increasing Cal State LA study abroad applications by 193% over two years, and boosting study abroad scholarship applications by 40% to 200%; at my previous university, I was responsible for the increase of study abroad participation by 57% over two years.
  • International student engagement: Transforming the international exchange student program at Cal State LA by reaching out to 72 students via online webinars and through ongoing engagement such as weekly tea times and Cal State LA’s first buddy program, organizing monthly meet-ups such as hikes and museum visits.
  • Strategic thinking: Creating a strategic plan, which included building affiliations with Latin America, resulting in a new exchange partnership between Cal State LA and Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP). The plan also included creating articulation agreements with impacted departments at Cal State LA, resulting in articulation between the Department of Television, Film and Media Studies and the University of Worcester.

I am also a Canadian/Norwegian immigrant who has lived in Kenya, England, and South Korea, though I feel most at home in the U.S. (and California specifically). I identify as a Third Culture Kid, am a language geek (I’ve studied college-level Spanish for over three years) and enjoy dirt on my hiking boots (Six Pack of Peaks; Half Dome; Mt. Whitney). Woo, Positivity, Communication, Activator, and Ideation are my five strengths, according to Gallup.

If you’d like to read my occasional blog, start here.

Si quisiera leer en español, aquí está mi otro blog.

My LinkedIn profile is here.

My Instagram is here.

My resume is here.

The dissertation I wrote about international students is here.