About Me

Photo: Bernadette Jarrard, January 2019.

In the academy. In the world. In the woods. These are three places you’ll find me, exploring, listening, and learning.

As the Education Abroad Coordinator at California State University, Los Angeles, I help university students achieve their dream of studying in another country like I did, affordably. I have these qualifications:

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

At Cal State LA I advise outbound and inbound exchange students, liaise with international exchange partners, plan and lead study abroad information sessions, organize and deliver pre-departure orientations, communicate with faculty to develop, market, and budget faculty-led courses abroad, collaborate with colleagues to develop a strategic marketing plan, serve on the Study Abroad Faculty Learning Community, and supervise three student assistants. Some of my favorite accomplishments include:

  • Received Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service, awarded to one employee per year
  • Accelerating exchange student applications by an 80% increase and scholarship applications by <250% increase
  • Orchestrating Fulbright scholarship applications in Fall 2017, advising 12 applicants and 3 semi-finalists
  • Planning and hosted three study abroad fairs, with 250-500 students attending each
  • Volunteering as on-site chair for Lessons from Abroad (LFA) Fall 2017 conference
  • Co-hosting Study Abroad Homecoming event for Cal State LA study abroad returnees
  • Communicating and assisting 40-55 inbound exchange students with paperwork, enrollment, and housing
  • Being accepted as the only representative from California for the Department of State-funded May 2017 visit to universities in Mexico City and Puebla, Mexico, to learn about promoting study abroad opportunities in Mexico

Previously, I worked as the Coordinator of Changing Global Society at Schreiner University, where I accomplished the following:

  • Created the university’s first centralized study abroad program
  • Overhauled a previously unorganized system, writing travel policy, creating pre-departure orientations and re-entry reflections, and managing trip budgets
  • Doubled study abroad applications among students in two years
  • Led a one-month study abroad trip to Florence, Italy
  • Hosted and co-hosted monthly cultural events reaching 30% of students every year
  • Chaired the Student Travel Committee and served on the Diversity Committee
  • Maintained social media to market programs: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and student blog

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). In Pico Iyer’s words, I am a “global soul.” Others call me a Third Culture Kid. My personal goal is to become conversationally fluent in Spanish (which I’ve studied for over three years) and Norwegian (which was my first language), and to complete my first thru-hike (JMT, I’ve got my eye on you). Woo, Positivity, Communication, Activator, and Ideation are my top strengths, according to Gallup.

Here are some other ways to learn more about me:

Sonja Lind is an incredibly invested higher education professional. She has a wealth of first-hand experience in the world of international education and study abroad. In my 2 years of working with Sonja, I saw her expand on a pre-existing study abroad program to the point where it was something totally new and exciting for students. She was intentional about building strong connections with faculty members who had previous experience with study abroad and welcomed other faculty who were interested in exploring it for the first time. Sonja is also student-oriented. She is aware that not all students have the option of studying abroad and she brings the international feel to campus where it is accessible by programming monthly events and highlighting areas of the world that are not as well-known to the average student. She connects with people one-on-one and sees opportunities for growth and education where others might see challenges. She is an excellent asset in creating a culture of global education. [LinkedIn]

Noelle Avenmarg Theis

I had the pleasure of working as a research assistant for Sonja’s dissertation study at UC Irvine. Under her guidance, I was introduced to qualitative research for the first time, and it led me to become interested in research myself. She pays a great attention to detail and shows amazing leadership skills, especially when working with students. I particularly admire her passion for international student services and her previous experiences within the field. Most importantly, I appreciate that she advocates for students and shares her knowledge with them. [LinkedIn]

Helen Tran