Sonja Ibsen

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Livermore, CA
Class: Senior

Between an interesting class talk and an enthusiastic recommendation from a professor, Sonja was convinced as a sophomore that the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC) was the place for her.  Three years later, she continues to be driven and passionate about what CLIC does. “I love helping people who I know need help.”

Sonja began her tenure at CLIC as an intern in the Student Legal Services and Juvenile Rights program. From there she moved up to become the director for the County Jail Law Project which works with the inmate population at Butte County Jail. In this capacity, she supervised 12 interns. “I missed working with clients, but I loved working with the interns. I like teaching others, and I feel very connected to the heart of the program.”

Seeking an additional opportunity for growth and development, Sonja applied and was hired as one of two administrative directors at CLIC. It is a challenging job that entails a lot of paperwork, budget oversight, outreach and troubleshooting. “The ADs are kind of the catch-all source for answering questions and supporting all 12 program directors. I pride myself on being accessible to all the interns. Training is an important part of the job.”

From the beginning, Sonja’s goal has been to make CLIC a comfortable place for all clients. “I want it to look professional so clients feel safe, secure, and assured that staff is competent to assist them.” Sonja’s philosophy is to “Leave it better than I found it.” To that end, she has been organizing the tasks and responsibilities of her job so that whoever follows her has a smooth transition. She has made great strides in “greening” the office by scanning countless legal files and documents in lieu of hard copy storage. She was also instrumental in securing a Hmong translator in the office to help with many of their clients for whom English is a second language.

Sonja is proud of the sense of community created by the 140 CLIC staff, and she speaks highly of their supervising attorneys. “They are incredible mentors who care about helping you grow. They gave me a sense of direction. They helped me focus and discover social justice as my mission.” Sonja will graduate in May and is currently applying to graduate schools to pursue non-profit administration.

“I love the Associated Students. When I first started at CLIC I had no idea of all the resources here in the AS. Plus, students often know nothing about all the options available to them on campus for assistance.” Sonja’s hopes her outreach efforts at CLIC will insure that students ARE aware of all these valuable resources.

In Sonja’s words:
“I wouldn’t have gotten the same educational value had I not combined my course work with my CLIC experience. CLIC makes my classes more applicable to the real world. This is the first time I’ve had a job where I really enjoyed going to work.”