Faculty Focus: Sonya Berges
Title: Assistant Professor, College of Education
Years at GCU: 8 – on April 13
- Undergraduate degree in Business Administration from GCU
- Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University
- In final approval stages of doctorate, an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, from GCU
What is your most notable accomplishment in your field, and why was it important?
In 2019, a colleague and I submitted a proposal to a national conference. It was my first national conference, and I was convinced that our proposal would not make the cut. But Dr. Crystal McCabe and I were accepted to present at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference. This is the premier conference for distance or online learning.
To add to the accomplishment, in 2020 we were notified that we had won an award for our presentation. Each year they honor a former professor from the University of Wisconsin who was instrumental in the online learning programs at Wisconsin. The Schullo Best Distance Teaching Practices Award is given for the presentation that exemplifies best practices, creativity and potential impact in the field of distance education.
What are you most passionate about in your field and why?
I am passionate about distance education because of the opportunities it provides to adult learners. By building community in the online classroom, educators can be a part of increasing equity in education, strengthening learner persistence and ultimately improving graduation rates.
What is a memorable moment you had in class, and what does that reveal about your teaching style?
Some of my favorite moments in class include reaching a student who has been struggling and thinks that there is no hope in passing. Giving students an opportunity to share their struggles and talk through their questions opens the door for hope and grace. While I may not be able to share the story of Christ with every student, I believe that my actions of grace and compassion, especially over the past year, model a bit of the love and grace Christ offers.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I love reading and sewing as well as hiking with my husband and playing games with my kids and grandkids. We also enjoy traveling as a family. While all of our children are adults now, we still love hanging out with them, talking, laughing and spending time together. Now that my dissertation is just about finished, I am looking forward a few future trips, including the Panama Canal, Australia and Tahiti.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know?
I had a very different career before becoming an educator. I was a Certified Public Accountant in Arizona. Using that accounting knowledge, I transitioned to consulting and managing accounting and CRM technology projects.