Sonia Rankin, associate dean of University College at the University of New Mexico is one of 10 educators to receive an outstanding first-year student advocate award from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina and Cengage Learning.

The award, now in its 27th year, honors college faculty, administrators, staff and students for their outstanding work on behalf of first-year students and for the impact their efforts have on the students and culture of their institutions.

“I have had a fantastic time working with the staff and faculty at UNM in making a difference for students,” Rankin said. “It has been so much fun to create spaces and opportunities for students to discover their potential. The most important thing is that our students know they have come to a university committed to their success and that our work helps them achieve their goals.”

"This national recognition shines a very favorable light on UNM..." – Kate Krause, dean, University College

The winners, who were chosen from 85 nominations, will be recognized at the annual conference on the First-Year Experience in Orlando, Fla.

“We were thrilled when we learned that Sonia had earned this well-deserved accolade,” said Kate Krause, dean of University College. “She brings incredible energy, passion and commitment to her work here in University College. This national recognition shines a very favorable light on UNM, and we can thank Sonia for that.” 

Rankin, who received her computer science degree from Morgan State University and law degree from the University of Illinois, is a lecturer in UNM Africana Studies where she teaches undergraduate courses such as Race and the Law, Race in the Digital Age, and Race, Family and the Law. She has also taught Civil Rights Movement, Black Women, and Black Liberation and Theology and currently teaches Race and the Law as an adjunct faculty member in the UNM School of Law.

Her latest article: Black Kinship Circles in the 21st Century: Survey of Recent Child Welfare Reforms and How It Impacts Black Kinship Care Families was published with the Whittier Journal of Law and Family Advocacy in 2013.

Rankin served as the Associate Director of Africana Studies for three years and was appointed the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Program Development, University College, in 2012 where she gets to ask her favorite question to every college, department and academic program on campus: “What are you doing to prepare your first-year students?”     

She is the chair of UNM’s Web Advisory Committee and since 2013, she has served as chair of the New Student Orientation Redesign committee, bringing together over 30 campus partners to create and implement the mission and vision of welcoming students to UNM. Rankin also serves as President of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association and created ExceedU, a two day academic preparedness workshop for first-year students.

For more information about the award, the award recipients or the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, contact Amanda Jackson, conference assistant, (803) 576-6328,