Sonya Bilovecky joined The Lawton Constitution when she was 16 as the evening switchboard operator. It was her first job, and a year later she moved up to obituaries.
Publisher Dennis Wade said she left the paper in 1988, after graduating from Cameron University, and worked as a 911 dispatcher and in administration for the City of Plano, Texas. In 2013, she moved back to Lawton, where she cares for her 90-year-old mother. She rejoined the Constitution taking sports scores and doing agate work for Sports Editor Joey Goodman. With the newspaper’s purchase by Southern Newspapers this year, she moved up to part-time paginator.
IT Manager Waylon Smart said Sonya showed just how amazing a person can be during the newspaper’s two-week editorial conversion in September, calling her "an incredible student, co-worker and employee."
Most of us dislike change and the Lawton staff has been through numerous changes since April 1. In September, the newsroom switched their production to Macintoshes, Adobe InDesign and TotalCMS all at once from a much older PC/Quark-based system.
"That’s three more huge changes on top of everything else, which is enough to put most any one of us in a dark place," Smart said. "But not Sonya Bilovecky."
Throughout the process, Smart said Sonya stayed calm and accepted the change as if she had invited it in the first place. Her attitude lifted the morale of her fellow employees (and her trainers) during a stressful and long process.
Sonya took meticulous notes and screen shots during training. She used her notes and pictures to create her own training manuals and shared them with the staff. She helped those who got lost.
"She asked questions and participated in the process in a way I rarely see," Smart said. "She was not negative or disruptive. Even in her worst hour, she was better than some during their best hour."
"As a part-time employee, she worked as hard or harder and as long as the rest of us. She managed to lead without knowing she was the leader. Her attitude and work ethic made the whole transition easier."
Everyone needs a Sonya on their team — even if she is afraid of plastic roaches.