Written by Nicole Nidea, Program Director
A little over a year ago, SODA felt like it was bursting at the seams. We had nearly 50 chapters but no dedicated staff member to be their mentor. I balanced welcoming new student leaders and supporting existing chapters with my other responsibilities as Program Director while dreaming of a day where we’d find the perfect person to take over student support.
My dreams became a reality when we welcomed Sophia Renner to our team. Sophia became our Student Engagement Coordinator shortly after graduating from Tulane University, where she earned a degree in Public Health and was a Campus Ambassador for Gift of Life Marrow Registry. This background made her the perfect fit for SODA National, and I've been impressed by her dedication to supporting students, passion for learning, and love of organ, eye, and tissue donation advocacy.
With Sophia’s help, we’ve been able to grow our network to 60 chapters, and these chapters are stronger than ever. I’m so thankful for Sophia and the support she’s been able to provide our student leaders. But, that’s not all—here is a list of some of SODA’s other impressive accomplishments since Sophia joined our team:
September 2022: We officially welcomed Sophia to the SODA National Team on our blog.
October 2022: The SODA National Team participated in our first in-person Donate Life America Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. While we were there, Sophia participated in her first registration drive with SODA at the University of Pittsburgh.
Sophia with the SODA at the University of Pittsburgh leaders in October 2022.
November 2022: We celebrated 50+ chapters and lots of lives saved in our 2022 Impact Report.
December 2022: The results were in—our students educated 35,999 people about organ, eye, and tissue donation and registered 2,873 people as donors throughout 2022. (Spoiler alert: This impact would only continue to grow with Sophia’s support!)
January 2023: All of our chapters gathered for the first Semester Kick Off Party hosted by Sophia.
February 2023: Sophia and I attended BBYO IC for the first time thanks to the Harri Hoffmann Family Foundation. We introduced organ donation advocacy to lots of Jewish teens!
March 2023: Under Sophia’s leadership, SODA’s new volunteer hour program was in full swing.
April 2023: It was Sophia’s first Donate Life Month and her six-month anniversary as our Student Engagement Coordinator!
May 2023: Another amazing semester was under wraps. This time, we educated 23,430 people about organ, eye, and tissue donation and registered 1,155 people as donors throughout the semester with Sophia’s guidance.
June 2023: Sophia shared our second annual SODA Award winners to recognize the best-of-the-best!
July 2023: We announced our third cohort of scholarship winners in partnership with Hearts for Russ and Second Chance Fundraising. Sophia coordinated applications, led the Scholarship Selection Committee, and began mentoring the winners so they’ll be able to host advocacy events this Fall.
August 2023: Sophia dove deep into creating courses for our students. More details to come!
September 2023: We launched the SODA Campus Challenge presented by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) with Hearts for Russ, Second Chance Fundraising, and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This was the first new program we launched with Sophia’s leadership. And of course, this month marks one year of Sophia at SODA. 🎉
These accomplishments would not be possible without Sophia (and support from our community members, like you!) Sophia has blown me away with her commitment to SODA and our student leaders and her growth over the past year, which is why I’m excited to announce that Sophia has been promoted to Engagement Manager. Let’s celebrate Sophia and this exciting new role together!
Send Sophia an email with your well wishes.
I can’t wait to share more about Sophia’s new role in the coming weeks and see what she accomplishes over the next year. In the meantime, be sure to follow SODA on Instagram for updates on our new courses, Campus Challenge rankings, and more.