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November 28, 2005

30-Year Profile: Patricia Sonntag

Photo: Patricia Sonntag
Patricia Sonntag
Patricia 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.

“I absolutely love it. It’s so rewarding and you couldn’t give me any other job on campus,” she says.

Sonntag’s 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.

Sonntag’s department hasn’t always had the means or the scope to be so effective.

“I 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 changed.”

But Sonntag’s 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.

“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.

“I’ve met some of the most wonderful people that have taught me more than I could’ve ever taught them,” she says.





 

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