Memorials Honor Joanna Sojka (MS10)

Memorials Honor Joanna Sojka (MS10)

Joanna Sojka group

Joanna Sojka (MS10, second from left in photo), a graduate of the Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Policy program, passed away suddenly on August 18 from an apparent stroke. Her memorial service will be held on Wednesday, September 3.

Sojka's colleagues in the close-knit Higher Education program remember her as an enthusiastic and intelligent leader as well as a charming, confident person.

"Joanna was a successful, enthusiastic and inquisitive student in our program," says Lois Trautvetter, director of the Higher Education program. "She interned in the Office of Change Management and discovered that she really enjoyed this work. She had a knack for being respectful, hard-working and good-humored. For example, I remember asking her what she eventually wanted to do with her degree, and she quickly answered with a warm smile, ‘Why, I’m going to be the president of Northwestern, of course!' Joanna definitely had the confidence and intelligence to accomplish quite a lot in her short lifetime."

After earning her graduate degree from Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy, Sojka had been working as the coordinator of business and financial services at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). Heather Haberaecker, assistant vice president at UIC, says, “While she was only 29 years old, Joanna had accomplished a lot in her career. … She will be greatly missed.”

Energetic and dedicated to her community, Sojka also recently became an alderperson for the Des Plaines City Council. A news release describes Sojka as one of the city’s "shining, young leaders," and for one week flags at all Des Plaines city buildings were flown at half-staff.

An outstanding student, Sojka also earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University, where she triple-majored in political science, international studies and economics and graduated in 2007. She had been the valedictorian of her graduating class at Schaumburg High School.

Alumni, faculty, family and friends are in the process of discussing a memorial at Northwestern to honor Sojka. “We want to honor her with something worthy,” says Trautvetter.

Anyone who is interested in the memorial to honor Joanna Sojka may contact Trautvetter ( or Jeff Hammock (, SESP director of development, to receive additional details or offer input.

The memorial service for Joanna Sojka will be held in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. at St. Hubert Church, 729 Grand Canyon Street. A funeral mass will follow at 6 p.m.

"Joanna will be greatly missed by the faculty, students, and alums of the MSHE community. Joanna was very close with many of her classmates in the program; some have already posted tributes to her on Facebook and elsewhere. Please keep her family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts," Trautvetter adds.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 8/28/14