October 4, 2023

Finding Your Unique Voice as a Leader

Dr. Sonya Rogers, lead faculty for the organizational leadership degree program at Columbia Southern University, has a passion for teaching her students and helping others. She enjoys what she does so much, in fact, that she describes her career at CSU as her favorite endeavor thus far.

Choosing a career when students are first beginning their college courses is no simple task. While some are gifted with a laser-like focus and know precisely what career paths they will choose, others struggle with the notion of committing to a specific path or industry; the choices and pressure can be overwhelming. Rogers was no different when she was going to college. As a young undergraduate with many paths to consider, Rogers took a leap and opted to participate in a career exploration activity, hoping that the results would help her to clearly define her career trajectory. The test results indicated that Rogers would be most skilled in the realm of teaching, coaching, and counseling. So, she jumped into her studies enthusiastically and never looked back.

After earning her bachelor’s degree, one of her first jobs allowed her the opportunity to work in youth services. She thoroughly enjoyed working with children; she says she learned as much from them as they learned from her. She then went on to pursue her master’s degree in elementary education and school guidance counseling. After graduation, she taught middle school for many years before moving into her role as a counselor.

As a lifelong learner, Rogers enthusiastically pursued her doctorate degree in organizational leadership, which opened the door to a teaching position at Columbia Southern University. “With my passion to help others, I learned over the years that I have a knack for leading others as well,” she explains.

One word that comes to mind when talking with Rogers is caring. “My mission in life is to do well and to help others along the way, she explained, “If I were climbing a ladder, I would not step on others to get to the top rung or knock others off to progress to the top. I believe God gave us a heart to genuinely do what is right and whether we are the student or the professor, the leader or the follower, the guide or the tourist….we can always help each other in some capacity.”

A lover of the written word, when asked to select a famous person that she most admires, Rogers chose Mark Twain, a great writer and humorist. “When his dad died at an early age, Twain quickly learned how to become independent and developed the characteristics of a successful leader. He was one of seven children. Unfortunately, he lost three of his siblings at an early age. I admire those who have endured hardships yet continue to pursue their goals. I believe it is intriguing to meet people who are willing to work and strive to obtain milestones in life no matter what they have experienced along the way. Twain’s desire to travel enabled him to shine as a lecturer. He loved to dream and inspire others; therefore, I see characteristics and qualities in Mark Twain that I possess myself. We also share the same birthday!”

When asked to share an interesting fact about herself, Rogers mentioned the time that she was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Senior Bowl. She stated, “I believe that every person has a unique voice and it should be heard.” She also shares this sentiment in the courses she teaches and encourages her students to participate in group discussions so they can learn from one another. “In a diversely populated environment, it is vital that students are able to collaborate with each other in different forums and learn the significance of gaining insight as to how they can become better writers, sharper thinkers, and more efficient workers.”

As a former chairperson for the CSU College of Business, Rogers has developed a strong desire to better the courses and programs at CSU. “I believe our students deserve the best and thoroughly enjoy the courses that relate to their field of work and are applicable to their daily tasks and roles. One of my favorite courses to teach is BSL 4060 Teambuilding and Leadership. This course teaches all students how to become and think as a leader, how to utilize different leadership styles, and how to motivate all employees to excel as team members.”


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