For three decades, Johnson Scholarships have enabled students to pursue their God-sized dreams.
Gabriella Winters, a senior studying marketing, co-led a service trip to South Africa this summer. She plans to graduate in December and return to South Africa “with two bags and a one-way plane ticket” to do long-term missionary work. The Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s support has helped her graduate debt-free, making her dream of long-term missions possible.
Winters’ original plan was to open a coffee shop, but “after this summer, I want to dream bigger,” she said.
Winters was one of three students who shared their stories Tuesday afternoon in a celebration of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s long-term impact on PBA students. JSF funds scholarships and other programs that serve people in financial need. Office Manager/Program Officer Sharon Wood and Program Specialist Lady Hereford attended.
PBA President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn said 268 Palm Beach Atlantic students receive scholarships from the foundation, and more than 6,300 students have received Johnson Scholarships to date.
The Johnson Scholarship Foundation creates opportunities for students to come to PBA who otherwise may not be able to afford it, she said. Those students go on to improve lives around the world.
“I love the way that PBA graduates are servant leaders,” Schwinn said.
Two of those servant leaders are Johnson Scholarship recipients Esther Hagan and Anna Rose McIntyre. The alumnae won Fulbright awards to work in the Philippines and Bulgaria, respectively. Palm Beach Atlantic alumni have earned 11 awards in the five years since the university’s Prestigious National Scholarship Program began. Hagan won two of those; her first award was to Taiwan.
Johnson Scholarship Foundation representatives Lady Hereford and Sharon Wood speak with Johnson Scholars Caleb Johnson (center) and Kevin Greene (left). PBA Provost Dr. Chelly Templeton, right, listens.Johnson Scholar Caleb Johnson applied to PBA at his mother’s urging, planning “to keep God in a little pocket of my life and do business the way I wanted.” That vision soon faded. PBA is a place where “we’re able to figure out what God is calling us to do and be obedient to it,” said the senior international business major from North Carolina.
“While my journey may not be anywhere near perfect, my God is,” Johnson said.
Johnson (no relation to the scholarship foundation’s namesake) plans to do economic development in Mexico and support small businesses there, he said.
Enrique Franco Martin left Mexico and moved to California with his family nine years ago. He came from a family of farmers and is the first to attend a university. When he arrived in the U.S., he was swayed by the culture and was losing touch with God, he said. “I was lost.”
His godmother texted him and suggested he study at Palm Beach Atlantic. Franco Martin arrived as a student in 2020, during COVID-19. Nonetheless, “I felt at peace. I felt relief. I felt at home,” he said.
Three years ago, Franco Martin “was happy to become a U.S. citizen and pursue the American dream, just like Mr. Johnson did,” he said.
Theodore R. Johnson worked his way through college and, after joining the United Parcel Service (UPS) in the early 1920s, earned an MBA at night school. He rose to vice president of labor relations and bought shares of UPS stock. Johnson and his wife, Vivian Chesley Macleod Johnson, established the Johnson Scholarship Foundation in 1991.
While he pursues a degree in cinema arts, Franco Martin works on the video team in PBA’s Advancement office.
“Thanks to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and PBA, I’ve been able to do what I enjoy doing, showing PBA — where you can keep your Christian values, your American values — to the world,” Franco Martin said.
Laura Bishop, PBA’s executive vice president for advancement, told students that Johnson was a hardworking man who “invested his dollars so that he could invest them back in you.” She added, “I think you all feel we’re making a difference in your lives, but what you don’t realize is that you’re making a difference in ours.”
In gratitude to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Bishop presented a framed antique scripture of Matthew 21:21-22.
Hereford, JSF’s program specialist, said the Johnsons believed in the power of education, specifically education that leads to employment. Mr. Johnson was a strong proponent of American free enterprise and entrepreneurship, she said.
Hereford told students, “The best thing you can do if you want to thank the Johnson Scholarship Foundation is to go out in the world and make a difference.”
The celebration concluded with seniors Joanna Zein-Eldin and Miriam Edele singing the praise song “Blessings.”
Photo 1: Student scholarship recipients, PBA leadership and Johnson Scholarship Foundation leadership pose for a photo in the DeSantis Family Chapel on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.
Photo 2: Johnson Scholarship Foundation representatives Lady Hereford and Sharon Wood speak with Johnson Scholars Caleb Johnson (center) and Kevin Greene (left). PBA Provost Dr. Chelly Templeton, right, listens.
Photo 3: PBA student Matthew Acheson admires the antique scripture the university gave the Johnson Scholarship Foundation to express gratitude for the student scholarships the foundation provides.