Profile: Patricia Sonntag
Sonntag is the heartbeat of the Services to Students with Disabilities
center at Sacramento State.
As the program director, Sonntag is responsible for breaking
down the barriers that disabled students encounter on campus.
Although Sonntag deals mainly with policy, it’s the effects
that they have on students that really make the job meaningful.
absolutely love it. It’s so rewarding and you couldn’t
give me any other job on campus,” she says.
31 years of experience on the job have given her the chance
to see the evolution of the campus. With relentless persistence,
Sonntag has lobbied and fought for many of the physical alterations
that allow equivalent access for disabled students on campus.
From elevators, to wheelchair ramps, to accessible bathrooms,
to the yellow guide-strips for the blind, Sonntag and Services
to Students With Disabilities have been the cornerstone of
equality and progress here on campus.
department hasn’t always had the means or the scope
to be so effective.
remember when we were just a few portables where the new parking
structure used to be,” she recalls. Strapped for space,
the program shared with other programs on campus. “We
once found several bales of hay from Parks and Recreation
Management in our wheelchair storage space. Times have definitely
efforts are not limited to the Sacramento State campus. Her
activism has included demonstrating for civil rights for the
disabled in San Francisco, writing speeches for the mayor
in Sacramento, and pushing for physical changes in Sacramento
City Hall. Her passion and dedication to expand human rights
for the disabled has been her life’s work and as she
looks back, she just can’t believe it.
seems like just yesterday I was just starting out. But I feel
like I’ve made a major contribution and doing what I
do has profoundly changed me,” she admits.
met some of the most wonderful people that have taught me
more than I could’ve ever taught them,” she says.