Bennett College is one of 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities supported by The United Methodist Church's Black College Fund.
Her own life experience drives her to speak up for others.
"I want to represent those who are oppressed and can't speak for themselves," said Johnson. "It's important that they know someone has their back and can help them through their situation."
When she was a child, Johnson's family struggled to make ends meet. They moved from place to place and often made a home with welcoming strangers willing to take them in. The instability, Johnson explained, made navigating high school difficult.
"Some places I stayed weren't even close to my school district," Johnson recalled. "I had to take the city bus to school every morning. I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. just to get an education."
Johnson struggled to stay focused on her studies and hide her family situation from her peers.
"Not thinking about what was going on at home was hard for me," she said. "I just put a smile on my face every day, but nobody knew I was breaking down. I didn't want anyone to know anything because I didn't want people to judge me or say mean things about me."
Ultimately, it was her church family, St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, that helped her through her situation. Through their involvement, she learned of Bennett College and was able to enroll there.
"Through all that I went through, my church family helped me," Johnson said. "Some reached out, some provided financial support and transportation. They paid for my graduation senior dues…They took care of me – The United Methodist Church. They are my real family."
Johnson now aspires to stand in the gap for others. She plans to advocate for those who feel voiceless as she did. The 4.0 student said education is the key she needs to unlock that dream and lead a better life.
"I take my education seriously," said Johnson.
School is not only an important stepping stone for Johnson, it was also an outlet growing up and offered a respite from difficulties at home.
"It felt so good to go to school and learn," she recalled. "People always wondered how I got straight A's. I stayed up studying. I did my homework before I went home because I never knew what the situation would be like."
Johnson wants to share the powerful impact of education with others. That's why the Black College Fund, administered by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), is important to her. Johnson said that the financial contribution and resources the BCF provides are making a huge difference in her life.
"[The BCF] shows that there are people willing to help others in situations like me," Johnson said. "No matter what you go through, you can still become successful."
Johnson hopes her story inspires others to support the BCF and see the critical work that it does in fueling hope.
Jessica Love, writer and editor, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.