ACANS News & Information Center
Sonja Jo Serna
Sonja Jo Serna, Specialist of Distant Education’s Extension Computer Support Services at the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, is the woman to contact if you have ever asked yourself what button to press in order to get a product. Serna can help you answer this question. Currently, she is heading-up the Centra video conferencing at New Mexico State University. Serna admits that her job entails an extensive workload, and maintains that she “couldn’t do any of it without the people she works with. ”
Serna is in charge of providing communications services to over fifty extension offices throughout the state of New Mexico including the Tribal Cooperative Extension Service Offices, Agricultural Science and Research Centers, and any other Satellite County Offices. It is her job to cultivate and connect stronger communications between these extension offices. For example, the New Mexico Department of Health may contact her in order to do video conference training for a newly funded program to a dozen other counties. In a scenario like that, Serna would provide both the speaker and its multiple audiences with the proper training and information to make sure that everybody gets and remains connected.
Along with these fifty-plus extension offices, Serna is the manager of the Technology Help Desk at the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. The help desk offers training for all faculty and staff in basic programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point. Serna says that they try to make training as painless and convenient as possible at the help desk, mentioning that they even offer what is called “The Powerful Half-Hourful.” “The Powerful Half-Hourful,” and other similar training sessions are intended to “introduce staff and instructors to a level of technology that they are comfortable with.”
When asked why she expends so much time and energy with the extension offices and distant education, she answered “I came from an extension office, and now I want to do everything possible to maintain communication at a statewide level.” She started out as a secretary sixteen years ago in an extension office here in Dona Ana County, where she did some software testing. From there she began working more closely with a web conferencing system (Horizon Live), which eventually lead her to her everyday involvement of Centra.
Since 2003, Serna has remained the “go to” woman for anything regarding video conferencing at NMSU. What started as something small has resulted in a booming effect throughout the state. With legislatives support last year of $25,000, Serna and her team were able to put the video conferencing Multi-Point Software (MPS) in more counties statewide. These new MPS additions are examples of the efforts being made to create a more connected and technologically up-to-date New Mexico. Serna and her co-workers continue to support the growing needs of New Mexico residents, and the benefits that can be gained through video conferencing and continued technology training.
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