Sonja attended Vieja Valley K-6. She continued her schooling in Santa Barbara through her first 2 years of college before heading on to California State University, Fresno. Sonja graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology.
Q & A with Sonja
VV: What was your favorite memory from Vieja Valley?
Sonja: My favorite memory from Vieja Valley was playing handball at lunch and going on the 6th grade trip to Toyon Bay.
VV: Is there a teacher that stood out the most to you and you looked up to?
Sonja: There were three teachers who stood out to me while I went to Vieja Valley: Mrs. Seigel-Boettner, Ms. Johnson. and Mrs. Carter.
VV: Did you always know you wanted to be a police officer?
Sonja: Yes, I always knew I wanted to be a police officer. My grandfather is a retired sergeant with the Santa Barbara Police Department. He was a role model to me. One week, it was my turn to be the Superstar of the Week in Mrs. Siegel-Boettner's class. I had to write out my favorite subject, sport and what I wanted to be when I grew up. This is what is wrote:
VV: Were there any challenges you faced while attending the academy?
Sonja: I faced a lot of challenges. The academy is very difficult. It tests you both mentally and physically. Our class started off with 36 recruits and graduated 31 officers. We started with 5 females and graduated 3.
VV: What advice would you give to a young, female Charger who has aspirations of joining the ranks of any male-dominated field?
Sonja: My advise to any Charger, female or not, is to follow your dreams. Any career you want to pursue you can achieve it.
I always wanted to become a police officer. I applied in 2013 and failed the physical portion of the test. Instead of giving up, I worked very hard. I worked out, watched what I ate, and hired a personal trainer. The physical ability I failed was the 6 foot wall. I was having a hard time finding a wall to train on so I decided to build my own. I bought the materials, nails, wood, built my wall and trained on it everyday until I was proficient. Then I re-applied and shortly thereafter passed the physical test.
Don't ever let failures get in your way of your dreams. Learn from them and keep going. My favorite quote that helped get me through the academy: "Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure" - Jack Lemmon. Too often we hold ourselves back because we are scared to apply ourselves because we think we may fail. That alone is what will prevent you from achieving your goals. Each day, show up and apply yourself. Put yourself in positions where you can fail. Learn from it and keep going. The only person who can prevent you from achieving your goals is you.
Interviewed 2015-16 school year