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Alumni Update

Sonia Checchia, SIS/BA '98

Sonia Checchia



One important turning point during my time at SIS that influenced my professional path:

My academic advisor, Sandy Dewey, was a wonderful resource who helped me “navigate the system” and maximize the opportunities and resources AU offered, including study abroad. I can recall a conversation where Sandy proposed, “Why not spend two semesters abroad?”

Why not, indeed? It was a great idea. Thanks to a little advance planning with Sandy, I studied in both Madrid and Rome. Both experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone, raised my self-awareness of my own needs and values and “how I show up,” and taught me that a lot of learning happens outside of the classroom—and far from the “walls” of campus.

The experiences also inspired my work post-graduation…

My passion for intercultural communication and love of language is the constant thread that’s woven through my resume, as I moved through my career and worked as a study abroad advisor, corporate trainer and diversity professional, and (currently) marketing and communications consultant.

A - possibly unexpected - pivotal experience or piece of knowledge that has led me to my current position:

I used to envy the lucky few who, from an early age, can chart their career path toward a “dream job” of veterinarian, firefighter, or teacher – and stay the course. I was never so lucky.

Before college, I wanted to be an architect. When I was at AU, I aspired to become ambassador to the United Nations. After graduating, I wanted to direct a study abroad program or become the next Dr. Gary Weaver.

As I look back on my career journey thus far, I realize I have been lucky in a different way. While haven’t held any of these “dream job” positions, I’ve put my talents to good use, developed a strong skill set, and—perhaps this is most important—really valued the variety.

Why I chose SIS:

I wanted to be part of an international community and wanted access to experts in global issues. Studying in DC was also very important to me.

How I make a difference in the world:

I do my best to listen deeply to the people I interact with every day. Making the people around me feel heard and understood is my way of respecting and supporting my coworkers, family, and friends.

Field of study:

I earned my BA in International Studies and minored in Spanish. While many of my undergrad courses focused on economics, I never pursued work in this area. My professional interests were related to language and culture. Years after finishing my BA, I learned about the field of linguistics and earned an MA in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University.

SIS activities:

I have fond memories of the spring break mini-internship program.


Italian and Spanish

World issue of interest:

I am interested in endangered languages and the politics of language. I sit on the Community Advisory Board of the Three Rivers Language Center (Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne), a group that supports language preservation.

Professional role model:

I don’t have one particular role model, but I find myself inspired by young entrepreneurs.

Favorite book:

A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth

Favorite movie:

Cinema Paradiso

Current residence:

Fort Wayne, Indiana