Students across disciplines, including business, art and science, shared impactful testimonies of how the Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s investment in their education positions them to make a difference in the world when they graduate.
Earlier this month, Palm Beach Atlantic recognized the Johnson Scholarship Foundation for its generous, ongoing commitment to the University’s students. More than 6,300 PBA students, including more than 300 current students, have received Johnson Scholarships to date, said University President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn.
“The impact has been incredibly broad and deep,” Schwinn said.
The private foundation exists to serve disadvantaged people by assisting them to obtain education and employment. The late Theodore R. Johnson and his wife, Vivian Chesley Macleod Johnson, started the foundation to help future generations obtain education. The Johnsons started the foundation based on his experience working his way through college and obtaining an MBA at night school. While working at UPS, he rose in ranks and bought as much stock as possible, which he used to start the foundation.
For 30 years, the foundation has been investing in the lives of students, Schwinn said.
“This is one of the most amazing returns on investment I’ve ever seen,” she said.
One former Johnson Scholar, 2017 graduate Hunter Durham, interned for Microsoft and went on to work for Facebook. Now he operates his own marketing company. Johnson Scholarship Day began with a video Durham and his classmates produced showing the value of Johnson Scholarships.
Also during the special recognition ceremony, two students performed a song and dance. Miriam Edele, a sophomore studying political science and music, sang “In Christ Alone,” a testimony of faith and trust in the Lord. Victoria Holmes, a senior studying dance pedagogy, performed a solo piece called “Rest Amidst Solitude” from her senior showcase “Sabbath.”
International student Kevin Greene, the son of missionaries in Guatemala, was the first of several students to speak about the impact of the scholarships. While mission work is Greene’s passion, it doesn’t provide enough income for a collegiate education, he said. During his freshman year living in the Oceanview Residence Hall, he matured both individually and in community with others.
PBA “creates a community of loving people and serving Christ as best we can,” said Greene, a junior studying international business and franchising.
Aaliyah Moore experienced the PBA community for the first time when she attended a student-led worship night during her senior year of high school. Now a junior studying cinema arts at PBA, Moore has served as a student producer and talked with her professors one-on-one about what might come next.
As Moore’s experiences have grown, so have her dreams, she said.
“There are so many career paths I can see myself taking,” said Moore, listing director of photography and documentary filmmaker roles. “None of that would be possible without the Johnson Scholarship.”
Nehemiah Pride, a senior studying exercise science, said it was always part of his plan to attend a college or university — even though no one else in his family had done so. Specifically, Pride wanted to attend a Christian college, and his English teacher led him to PBA.
Pride plans to become a doctor, preferably a rehab physician specializing in sports medicine.
Through her PBA studies, Maria Landron discovered a passion for immigration policy and disadvantaged communities. Landron is a senior studying public relations, a Women of Distinction scholar and a Freidheim Fellow in the LeMieux Center for Public Policy.
The immigrant experience is personal. Landron’s family moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was 11. Many people don’t realize the immense financial hardships that come along with starting over in a new country, she said. While most college freshmen are excited, “three weeks before I started college, I was so frustrated wondering if I would be able to afford it.”
The Johnson Scholarship enabled Landron to obtain a Palm Beach Atlantic education and the opportunities that come with it, she said.
In his remarks, Johnson Scholarship Foundation CEO Robert Krause noted the word “opportunity” came up a lot in students’ remarks. The Christian faith teaches that opportunity is a gracious gift, Krause said. Theodore Johnson died in the 1990s, and yet he left a legacy that continues to create opportunities for people, Krause said.
“Someone you never met chose to deliberately create a meaningful educational and financial opportunity in your life,” Krause said. “You’ve already taken one step toward opportunity — you’re here. Now ask ‘What am I doing with my life to bless someone who will never have an opportunity to know my face or my name?’”
Laura Bishop, PBA’s executive vice president for advancement, built upon Krause’s remarks.
“This isn’t a transaction,” Bishop said. “This is a community that is counting on you to go out in the world and make a difference.”