Dr. Sonja Ardoin, assistant professor of student affairs administration in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling in Appalachian State University's Reich College of Education (RCOE), has been named the recipient of the Early Career Award from NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) Faculty Council. She will receive the award at the 2021 NASPA annual national conference’s Faculty Breakfast event, which will be held virtually, on March 19.
“I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by a collection of students and colleagues who know me from different points in my career and different contexts, and to receive this award from NASPA, which is one of my professional ‘homes’,” said Ardoin.
“I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by a collection of students and colleagues who know me from different points in my career and different contexts, and to receive this award from NASPA, which is one of my professional ‘homes’.”
“As a first-generation college graduate, I recognize the privilege it is to be able to access higher education and, now, to hold a Ph.D. and serve as a faculty member,” she continued. “I believe this privilege comes with the responsibility to keep learning, to aid others in their desired pathways, to employ an ethic of care, and to engage in work that advances equity in higher education.”
“I also acknowledge that this award is a culmination of others' investment in me - my family, my PK-12 educators, my higher ed professors and advisors, my supervisors and colleagues, everyone I have shared the joy and challenge of co-creating and volunteering with, and all the students I have had the pleasure to learn alongside,” she added. “Our work is collaborative and I am grateful for the people with whom I have taught, researched, and served.”
Given through NASPA’s Faculty Council, the award recognizes a full-time faculty member within their first six years who has distinguished themselves in research, teaching, and service. In particular, the award is reserved for an emergent scholar, who has produced evidence of published scholarly works in the student affairs profession/field, has established themselves as excellent teachers to their students, and who has contributed to the field through their service.
The nomination letters from her students reiterate Ardoin’s “dedication and passion to the field”:
- “Through her practical experiences, her network, and her own personal academic journey, she is able to bring that into the classroom and make the lessons come alive. The authenticity and empowerment she brings into a space makes it easy for students to become receptive to some of the most difficult and elaborate concepts.” --Kira Taylor ’20
- “As her former student, I was invested in, supported, and mentored to be an empowered scholar-practitioner. Her infusion of social justice work into every assignment ensured that she was sending informed, energized allies and advocates into the field. Her empathy and encouragement led me to have a renewed hope for the future and a desire to be a part of positive change on every campus I go to.” --Hannah Cook ’20
- "Not only is Dr. Ardoin a stellar professor, but she is a scholar that creates change in our profession. Dr. Ardoin inspires me to be challenged and to challenge myself and my peers around me. Dr. Ardoin reminds me of what matters when working, and I hope to one day make a difference like she does." --Gaige Coswell ’20
- “She has a modern and informed method of teaching that regularly challenged my way of thinking and appreciation of this work. More than anything, being around Sonja makes you want to show up in the space. Showing up for yourself, your peers, and her. The things we learned and discussed in class always had applicability to both personal and professional development.” --Alex Espaillat ’20
“Through her practical experiences, her network, and her own personal academic journey, she is able to bring that into the classroom and make the lessons come alive."
Ardoin earned a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis from North Carolina State University, an M.S. in higher education and student affairs from Florida State University, and a B.S. in secondary education from Louisiana State University. She joined the RCOE faculty in 2018.
Ardoin’s research focuses on four areas:
- social class identity in higher education;
- college access and success for first-generation college students and students from rural areas;
- career preparation and pathways for higher education and student affairs;
- student and women's leadership.
She serves the broader field through volunteer roles with ASHE, ACPA, AFLV, the Center for First-generation Student Success, NASPA, and several journal editorial boards, and is engaged as a speaker and consultant.
Counting published and in-press pieces, Ardoin has 35 peer-reviewed publications: four books, one monograph issue, 24 book chapters, and six journal articles, some of which are used by multiple HESA graduate programs across the U.S.
Additionally, in the past six years, Ardoin has received seven small university and association research grants and facilitated 90 presentations at conferences and gatherings. These efforts led to her being named to the 2017-2018 NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy and a 2019-2021 ACPA Emerging Scholar.
Learn more about Ardoin’s work at www.sonjaardoin.com.