By Stephanie McMillen
Sonya Joseph, assistant vice president for student affairs, says the most enjoyable aspect of her job is finding new ways for students to connect to the college.
“Every day, for the last 21 years, has been different and challenging,” Sonya said. “I love the mix of working with the students and working with the staff who work with the students.”
Sonya’s career at Valencia began in 1991 with two part-time positions – she worked as an adjunct math instructor and a student development coordinator on the Osceola Campus.
“After two years of two part-time jobs at Valencia, I became the full-time coordinator of student services at Osceola,” Sonya explained. During this time, she also continued to teach math in the evenings.
In 1998, Sonya became dean of students on the East Campus, and seven years later, in 2005, she moved into her current position as assistant vice president for student affairs.
In her time at the college, Sonya is proud to say that she served on the first student services team to span two campuses – Osceola and Lake Nona. “I began work with student services when we were in portables at Osceola and in the high school at Lake Nona,” Sonya said.
Among her accomplishments, she sites building a team that focuses solely on veteran issues at the college as being at the top of her list.
“I love the fact that I have been able to bring together a team whose primary focus is veteran issues,” Sonya explained. “The team has done great things together and we were just recognized as a veteran friendly school because of the services and outreach of the veteran’s coordinating group.”
Sonya was also instrumental in crafting the winning proposal that led to Valencia receiving a $1.8 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
“Sonya is an experienced professional who has the [skill that was] necessary to help develop the Title III concept,” said Kristeen Christian, assistant vice president of resource development. “She was able to conceptualize the project and articulate it in such a way that those reading the proposal would understand and see the connections.”
Sonya holds a bachelor’s degree in math education from the University of Central Florida (UCF), a master’s degree in higher education from Florida State University (FSU), and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UCF.
In her free time, Sonya is a chauffeur for her children, taking them to dance, baseball, volleyball, and church activities. She also “loves” watching college football, especially when FSU and the University of Oregon are playing.
As fans of major league baseball, Sonya boasts that she and her husband have never missed a Spring Training for the Houston Astros in 21 years. “My goal is to see a game in every major league stadium in the country,” she said.
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