Melanie Sonsteng-Person

Melanie Sonsteng-Person is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Social Welfare. She is Social Justice Fellow for the UCLA Institute of American Cultures working for the research and community engagement project “Social Justice and Education in the Community.” Broadly, her research interest focuses on unaddressed trauma symptoms in violence-exposed youth, more specifically her aim is to identify key protective factors that lead to an increase in educational attainment and decrease in criminalization. Her work at UCLA focuses specifically on how schools identify and respond to community violence exposure and trauma exposure. She is currently analyzing survey and interview data she collected to assess teachers’ current level of training on violence and trauma exposure among their students and how this influences their feelings of success and confidence in the classroom. The interviews provide an in-depth understanding of the meaning teachers give to students’ internal and external trauma symptoms displayed in the classroom and how teachers perceive their preparation and coping skills.


Prior to coming to UCLA, Melanie worked in Boston, Brooklyn, and Detroit in the fields of violence prevention and education. Her research is informed by her experience as a 7th Grade Science Teacher in Brooklyn and as a Certified Trauma Practitioner in Detroit where she worked with youth and students exposed to violence.


You can follow Melanie’s work and engage in a safe classroom’s collaborative here: