Fall 2020 Alum Interview: Sofia Sedergren-Booker

Sofia Sedergren-Booker (M.A., 2019) has been working for the CUNY Census Project and is the co-founder of the Swedish Trans-Atlantic Researchers and Scholars (STARS) Network.

Caroline Sigler: Can you discuss the work you have been up to since graduation?
SSB: In December 2019, I founded the Swedish Trans-Atlantic Researchers and Scholars (STARS) Network. STARS is an academic network for researchers who come to North America from Sweden and vice versa. We connect people across disciplines by providing a space for hosting events (currently over Zoom), share information and guides on the challenges of relocating, and are currently launching a mentoring network for more advanced/experienced scholars to advise those just starting out. I have also been working for the CUNY Census Project. The aim of this campaign is to encourage people to complete the census so that New York receives the representation and funding it deserves.
CS: What can you tell us about how COVID-19 affected census reporting?
SSB: The primary strategy of the CUNY Census Project was an in-person, on the ground campaign. Quarantine has made this impossible, so we have since moved to a digital campaign that operates remotely. Despite this, I think it has been a good campaign and we have had a lot of engagement. So far we are at a 60% self-response rate as opposed to a 64% self-response rate in 2010.
CS: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since graduation?
SSB: As an international student, I am facing issues related to immigration and transitioning from a student visa to a permanent residency status.
CS: There are a lot of international students at the GC and so your experience may be helpful to them. Do you have any advice for the students who may find themselves in your situation after graduation?
SSB: Quarantine has made navigating the immigration system an even more difficult process than usual. I would recommend hiring a lawyer if possible, but this is expensive and not everyone can afford it. One good resource to make use of is CUNY Citizenship Now. They will help review your application and can provide general information about the process. It makes a huge difference to have someone who has experience going through the process help you out.
CS: What is your favorite memory of the GC?
SSB: My favorite memory would probably have to be going to department events. These were opportunities to meet people and have fun. In New York City, everyone lives in all different areas so it can be difficult getting to know other students. These events allowed me to talk with other students, network, and make friends.