How long have you been on campus?
I’ve been on campus since 2003. I started in the Office of Biomedical Research & Training (OBRT), Now OTRES. Then in 2007, I stepped into the role of coordinator for the Faculty Mentoring Program and in 2010, the coordinator position for the Faculty Center was added to my role.
What is your role and how do you support our campus?
I really love what I am doing here. I never know what my day will be like because it’s always different. I need to be really organized though. My two roles are very different and can be quite complex because I am balancing so many different areas at the same time.
My role with the Faculty Center includes supporting a large group of people including
the director, associate director, four faculty fellows and three to five Faculty Learning
Community Leaders. There is a lot of coordination needed to support the faculty fellows
and leaders because they are managing so many tasks at the same time. Also, the fellows
are only in their position for two years and leaders for one semester or a year. It
is so important that I maintain the information needed to continue their work.
I really enjoy being able to build relationships with our new faculty through everyday interactions and some of the events the Center holds. The New Faculty Institute is a 2-3 day training session during the summer. It gives me the opportunity to really engage with our faculty and get to know them.
I feel like I am much more involved with my other role as the coordinator for the Faculty Mentoring Program though. I work with both the faculty and our students by answering questions and really supporting them by ensuring everyone receives the information they need. I am very proud of how the faculty mentoring program has grown over the years. When I moved over in 2007, there were about 40 students in the program. There are now 150-200 students enrolled in the program and more than 100 faculty mentors!
What is your favorite restaurant and/or TV show?
I was actually introduced to my favorite restaurant by a coworker. When we wer eon campus, I would go almost every Friday. It is a family-owned restaurant called Darunee Thai Cuisine, and I saw CSUSM staff and faculty there all the time. And I would say that Everybody Loves Raymond is my favorite TV show. Anytime it is on, I watch it.
What is your favorite memory of CSUSM?
Every year, the Faculty Center holds a Research Colloquium Dinner. It is one of my favorite events all year because I have the opportunity to really get creative in how the event is decorated. I try to base the theme each year on the keynote speaker for that year. It’s funny because people often ask me to what the theme is, but I like to keep it a surprise until the day of the event.
This one year, I decided to decorate the McMahan House with 50 balloons. The idea was that we would let them deflate overnight and clean up the morning after the event. Turns out, there was an event the morning after, and we had to remove all of the balloons before we left. It wasn’t easy, but we really had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to remove all of these balloons that were floating on the ceiling. We were all laughing so hard by the time it was over. We had to get creative, but we managed to remove them all. It will be the last time I use them to decorate an event though!
Another favorite memory is when I was told by a coworker that the President called and asked that I call her back. I was nervous because I thought she was going to ask me about NCHEA, a program that I was helping coordinate at the time. I was trying to prepare for the questions she was going to ask me. I was so worried and completely surprised when the President shared that I had won the Zomalt Award. It was very emotional for me and really meant a lot to be recognized for my work.
With most of us working from home, what has been the biggest change you have had to make?
It has been a really tough year. Everything is virtual. It is much more difficult to build relationships through Zoom. I really miss being able to catch up with one another in the hallways or before meetings. I was also diagnosed with cancer in May and am now in treatment for five years. I am thankful to be able to be at home, but still miss being able to connect with everyone on campus.
Is there any advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
It is really important to keep a positive attitude and be grateful for what we have. Put your whole heart into your job and do it with a smile.
We want to thank Sonia for taking the time to be our spotlight this month.