Sharing his “Perfect Opportunity” with other Huskies.

By Andrea O'Neill '06

Sonntag hopes that his "perfect opportunity" becomes the same for many other future Huskies with his contributions.

It wasn't until he had his first professional position that Joshua Sonntag '14 realized how perfect a match he had found with Bloomsburg University. He has since decided to help others make the same match.

Bloomsburg wasn't Sonntag's first choice in a college. Not only were his high school teachers not supportive of his chances in college, but his high school transcripts kept him out of all his top choices.  But he was excited to receive his acceptance to B.U., even though his classmates smirked at what they deemed an "inferior" school.

"People made fun of me about how B.U. was a party school,” said Sonntag “But B.U. was giving me a chance. It didn't seem like the perfect opportunity; Until it was."

"Until it was." While his classmates were heading to UPenn, Drexel, or Penn State, Sonntag arrived in Bloom undeclared.  And while he got to campus with the idea that he wasn't going to learn as much as his friends, it didn't take long for B.U. to change his mind. Before his first year was over, he had chosen a Geography and Planning major. Not only was he learning, but he was also gaining the necessary confidence for employment in the GIS industry.

"I realized I was just as well off as anybody else as long as I put in the effort," said Sonntag. "The opportunities became more apparent, and I became a different person. Bloomsburg really understood what it meant to go into a career."

Sonntag was hired by BAE Systems as a geospatial engineer before he even graduated - chosen over graduates from the same schools that had refused him just a few years prior. He got the chance to compare his education to one of those schools when he enrolled in an M.S. program in GIS Programming.

"There was no 'Bloomsburg isn't a good school' when it came to the field we were in," said Sonntag. "Bloomsburg blew them all away. Going into the [M.S.] program, there was nothing I didn't already know."

Josh Sonntag '14

Bloomsburg had indeed become Sonntag's "perfect opportunity." His experience stirred a desire to give back, and he vowed to do so once he had the financial means and professional experience necessary.

"My growth was because Bloomsburg believed in me and allowed me to prove myself. They understand that students just need a chance."
 
Sonntag moved on as a big data engineer with Comcast and started a scholarship as soon as he was able.

"I want to help students who have the same low confidence and lack of opportunity as I did so they know that they can be as great as they want, "said Sonntag. "Bloomsburg is a great place to build success, and nothing is better than seeing it happen for a student."

Sonntag has also given his time as a presenter within the College of Science and Technology, a resume reviewer at the Career Intensive Boot Camp, and via a welcome video for new students.

"I thought it would be challenging to give back, and that wasn't the case," said Sonntag. "B.U. made it pretty seamless and easy. Young Alumni are more influential than they ever were, and I believe they will become more and more prevalent and beneficial as technology improves."

Sonntag hopes that his "perfect opportunity" becomes the same for many other future Huskies with his contributions.

"Students don't even know how well they are going to do until they get to that first job," said Sonntag. "B.U. is just as much a top tier school like [bigger higher-ed institutions]. It belongs up there and I want students to feel that they can get the same or better education than schools that cost ten times the money."

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