Sonja Johnson-Blaziak: Program provides practical experience

Sonja Johnson-Blaziak
Sonja Johnson-Blaziak

Sonja Johnson-Blaziak finds the VCU School of Education’s Post-master’s Certificate for Reading Specialist program to be ideal for someone looking for hands-on, practical experience.

While pursuing her certificate, Johnson-Blaziak continues to work at the VCU School of Pharmacy in the Office of Admissions. In fact, she credits her colleagues who also pursued higher education degrees, for supporting her while she earned her M.Ed. in Adult Learning - Adult Literacy at the VCU School of Education.

Johnson-Blaziak always believed she had more to give on the job, but she wasn’t sure which field to pursue. She had been repeatedly told by colleagues and friends that they viewed her as a teacher, so she felt that this was a sign to pursue that field. “There is no greater reward than helping someone achieve their goals and overcome their difficulties,” she said about her passion for teaching.

She first realized that she had that passion when she taught English as a Foreign Language to adults in Poland at the Foundation for Local Democracy and the A1 School of Foreign Languages. This experience inspired her to help non-traditional students who want to pursue their love of language.

The most enjoyable aspect of Johnson-Blaziak’s current semester is what she is learning on a practical level. This includes discovering how children learn to read, which is helping her teach adult literacy. Many of the people she works with have a fifth- to sixth-grade reading level. “I believe it is important to study how children learn in the K-12 system, so I can use that knowledge to identity my students’ deficits and help them improve,” she said.

She advises students interested in pursuing continuing education to choose a discipline that they are passionate about and to not let the fear of the unknown stop them from pursuing their dreams.

“Everyone has a different path. You may think you are headed in one direction as an undergrad, but you may find yourself headed in a different direction as time goes by,” she said. “In my current work environment, there is flexibility and freedom to fulfill your continuing education needs.”