This summer, Dr. Olga Tsoudis, residential faculty for Sociology at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), traveled to Tanzania to volunteer at an orphanage with the Make a Difference (MAD) NOW organization, a nonprofit using a family and sustainability model to work with a select group of orphaned and vulnerable children by paying their school fees through college in a matching funds partnership with the schools the children attend.
Tsoudis, who has been teaching at EMCC for ten years, enjoys traveling and making a difference in and outside the classroom as a sociology instructor and activist.
She travelled with EMCC Counseling faculty, Dr. Bertha Medina, and together they tutored math, reading and made collages with the kids. They also shared a movie night and played soccer.
Tsoudis commented, “Being in Africa confirmed for me even more and further reminded me that there is more to life than materialistic things and the competition for them,” said Tsoudis. “There are children who are grateful for what little they have and appreciate the world that they are in and they are smiling.”
Tsoudis earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and a master’s and doctorate degree in Sociology from the University of Arizona.
On campus she teaches SOC130: Human Sexuality, SOC157: Marriage and Family, and SOC212: Gender and Society.
She also coordinates events with other faculty for the entire campus, such as Love Your Body Week, Domestic Violence Awareness, and Women’s History Month with English faculty Erin Blomstrand, and One Billion Rising with Biology faculty Sandy Zetlan and Marsha Segerberg; all of which she is very passionate about.
“These events help make the students more socially aware of the issues,” said Tsoudis. “I try to involve my students.”
Tsoudis has traveled extensively, exploring Greece and Cyprus where her and her husband’s family live, Singapore, and Nepal, and even Antarctica. When she is not teaching or traveling, Tsoudis is an activist participating in AIDS walks, fundraising or securing donations for The New Life Center as well as other organizations that support women’s and gay rights.
She says her activism goes hand in hand with her teaching subjects. It allows for people to understand each other better because everyone comes from different backgrounds.
“I do think it’s my responsibility,” said Tsoudis. “However you don’t have to be a sociologist. Anyone can take on this responsibility and make a difference in the world.”
Students who take her classes get to see pictures of her travels and are treated with guest speakers she has met throughout her journeys and connect with her activism.
Tsoudis says she doesn’t see herself doing anything else. She likes EMCC and the Arizona weather, but when she can, she explores different parts of the world.
When asked where she would like to travel next, her answer was simple, “I’ll travel anywhere I haven’t been to.”