Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Meet a Roadrunner: Transfer student Sonie Johnson wants to empower domestic violence survivors

UTSA honors student gained research experience at local shelters as an undergraduate student.

Sonie Johnson
Photo courtesy: Ray Perez Photography


(April 12, 2017) -- Meet Sonie Johnson. This UTSA Honors College student is doing research on domestic violence in San Antonio and around the nation in an effort to influence public policy to help victims of abuse.

This spring, Johnson is on track to graduate with bachelor's degrees in English and Sociology from UTSA.

Johnson transferred to UTSA in the fall of 2014 and received a Terry Foundation Transfer Scholarship, a Distinguished Transfer Scholarship, a Walter O. Mason Jr. Education Foundation Scholarship, and a Sam and Ann Barshop Scholarship, which fund her top-tier education. During her first semester at UTSA, Johnson also became a McNair Scholar.

As part of her coursework, Johnson conducted research as an undergraduate student. Her honors thesis focused on the use of narrative writing to enhance wellness among survivors of domestic violence. Johnson researched the circumstances that negatively impact the lives of survivors, especially immigrants and those from low-income families. In March, she received a first place award for a poster on her project, "The Six Dimensions of Wellness of Survivors of Domestic Violence: An Assessment," at the 2017 COLFA Spring Research Conference.

"There is a great need to foster the wellness of women staying at shelters," said Johnson. "Self-realization can help survivors address the many challenges and factors that hinder their self-sufficiency."

In addition to working with women and children in the San Antonio community, Johnson shared her talents with students as a member of the UTSA Collegiate G-Force Work Study Mentorship program. She mentors students at high schools, at UTSA and at other higher education institutions across the state.

Johnson said the scholarships she received helped her focus on academics and her work in the community. Although the scholarship application process was unfamiliar to her at the start, she said she learned quite a bit along the way and those experiences encouraged her to guide other students who felt overwhelmed by the process.

"There are scholarships out there for students to take advantage of," said Johnson. "I help them navigate the process so they can take advantage of all the resources available to achieve their academic goals."

Johnson's goal is to pursue graduate study in social work to write, teach and help women and children living in shelters.

"I want to develop a course that can be taught in shelters to empower women to create a better quality of life for their families," said Johnson. "I want to write policies to help women and children living in shelters around the nation."

- Kara Mireles

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