The PantherNation Long Talk: Ms. Ohlsson

September 9, 2019

The Long Talk offers a chance to sit down with the various personalities in the ISB community and get to know them a little bit better.  Ms. Sonya Ohlsson the new college counselor in the High School. She sat down with PantherNation to share a bit about herself.

 Where did you grow up and what made you want to become a teacher?

I was born in Michigan, moved to France when I was two, back to MI at 3 and then to Vermont when I was 10 years old.  I think of myself as a Vermonter. I actually did not think I would be a teacher or work in a school, mostly because I hated my own high school experience. I originally thought I was going to work in the field of International Development and went to (London School of Economics) LSE to study Gender and Social Policy, but unexpectedly got a job at UC Berkeley and found I liked higher education. That led to university admissions and then to working in High Schools helping students think about life after High School and all the possibilities there could be! I did also teach 9th grade history for 5 years, but that was not something I had ever planned. I worked at a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania and the class, called “Peace and Justice” was wonderful.

What position did you have previous to coming to ISB?

Right before coming to ISB, I was the Director of University and Careers Counseling at YK Pao School in Shanghai, China. And before that, I was Director of College Counseling at The Field School in Washington, DC. I have also done admissions at the University of Vermont and Northeastern University.

Why did you choose to come to ISB?

I had several friends who worked here or lived here, so I had heard so many great things about the school. And so when an opening for a college counselor came up, I jumped at the chance! I knew I liked Thailand since I have been visiting the country for almost 20 years.  I even brought a school group here for three weeks about 10 years ago.

Who were your favorite authors and books when you were in High School?

Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen King, William Gibson, Piers Anthony, Arthur C. Clark, Judy Blume, Isaac Asimov, Paula Danzinger, S.E. Hinton, Lois Duncan–so many!  I loved and lived to read as a kid and still do.

If you could give some advice to YOUR High School self, what would it be?

My advice to my high school self would be: stop being so concerned with what you think people are thinking about you because they are probably not thinking about you as much as you think they are!! And even if they are, so what!?! Don’t allow yourself to be judged by other people’s rejection–perceived or real! Don’t let other people define who you are. Speak your truth–your experiences are valid and your voice deserves to be heard.

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