Honors alumna Sonoma Dixon ‘21 publishes Honors thesis

By Kistler Hunt

Honors alumna Sonoma Dixon ‘21 has recently published her Honors thesis as an article, “Airline satisfaction and loyalty: Assessing the influence of personality, trust and service quality,” in the Journal of Air Transport Management. Dixon defended and completed her thesis in the spring of 2021. Dr. Steve Leon, associate professor in the Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management and director of the Walker College of Business Honors Program, served as her thesis mentor, and Dr. Hoon Choi served as second reader. Dixon graduated from Appalachian in the spring of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration — supply chain management and a minor in international business.

Dixon’s thesis and published paper explored various personality traits, such as extroversion, and evaluated if those characteristics impacted the satisfaction and loyalty of customers in the U.S. airline industry. When choosing her thesis topic, she says, “I chose this particular thesis topic because I am fascinated by consumer behavior. I am interested in personality traits and absolutely love taking personality tests, so I thought it would be interesting to link the two; does your personality impact your loyalty and satisfaction? I also have always had an affinity for flight which contributed to the airline industry aspect of my thesis.”

Dr. Leon notified Dixon in September of 2023 that the paper had been accepted for publication. About the publication process, Dr. Leon said, “As her thesis director…I supported her through encouragement and motivation. It is difficult to remain engaged in a research project and see it through to publication. There is a lot of writing and rewriting and multiple revisions, so it can be easy to throw your hands up and call it quits. Sonoma didn't quit… I was her sounding board. She knew that when she had questions or needed to talk something through, I would be there for her. Questions come up about writing style, methodology, analysis, and how to submit a research article for publication. I was there to guide her in these areas… Her thesis was well written, her research methodology was rigorous, and her results were interesting. Those results led to a thought-provoking discussion section. With some revisions to her original thesis, a publishable research paper in a reputable journal was not out of the question. In fact, it seemed like a publishable paper stemming from her thesis was a foregone conclusion.”

Dixon highlights that the Honors College,

“Has helped me by teaching me how to ask the right questions, to be confident in my knowledge and expertise, and how to be well-written in both work and personal matters.”

She also shared that her participation in the Honors College Vanguard was a pivotal aspect of her Honors experience, helping her learn how to interact with others and present herself in a knowledgeable fashion. She remarks that Honors has helped her in many aspects of life, including searching for jobs and networking.


Photo features Sonoma Dixon at the Great Wall of China as a part of her Honors International Education experience. Dixon completed a Semester at Sea program, where she traveled with other college students to 12 countries. Photo submitted.

Dixon’s successful publication has positively impacted her professional development. Dixon describes that having published work, “has helped me in my pursuit of connecting with other industry professionals. Additionally, it has led to me meeting professionals who I am now collaborating with in writing additional works.”

Since graduating from App State, Dixon moved to Durham, North Carolina, where she works for Amazon and lives with her partner and two dogs. She is also a supply chain consultant for an emergency management firm, where she evaluates the supply chains of various cities to help them prepare for natural disasters. She is continuing her studies through various certification and self-study programs. She hopes to obtain her master's degree and pilot’s license in the future.

Top photo features Sonoma Dixon. Photo submitted.


Published: Feb 7, 2024 10:01am