One student's hopes for Baltimore

Posted at 6:39 PM, Apr 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 18:39:57-04

Dawnya Johnson doesn't view life as a glass half full, she'll tell you it's two thirds full, because half is not enough.

Johnson is one of Baltimore's young people whose commitment and dedication to her city is unwavering.  In high school, she was heavily involved with the youth group The Intersection, where we met her two years ago.

Today, she is a freshman at Goucher College and the first freshman to become the student government's president.  When she thinks about how far she's come, even she's shocked by it all.

"I feel like I'm having an out of body experience when I think about the growth that has happened and the things that have triggered that growth," she said.

Johnson has come a long way since her childhood.  Her dad spent most of her young life in prison, her mom became addicted to drugs.  Johnson spent a lot of time in foster care, and had almost given up hope, until a teacher pushed her to do better.  She then found The Intersection, a youth group that encourages community activism.

Since joining The Intersection, Johnson has traveled the country and the world, speaking to groups and becoming active and engaging in their communities.  She recently spoke to a crowd of 15,000 at a Teach for America event about her past, her successes and her dreams, including becoming a Teach for America core member in Baltimore.

"It was like seeing 15,000 warriors ready to hit the streets and change the lives of young people in the same way my life was changed by people in the same position," she said.

Johnson is also very optimistic about Baltimore's future, despite the riots and violence that cast a negative spotlight on the city following Freddie Gray's death.

"I see the new people standing up against the injustices in communities in Baltimore.  I see people doing community clean ups and cool alley projects," she said.  "You see all those things and you can't just be down about it.  It's like dang Baltimore grab them by the horns!"

Johnson isn't sure what she wants to do after college.  She could teach, get into politics, education policy, the sky's the limit for her.  One thing's for sure, Baltimore will play a role in whatever she does.

"I can't wait to see what Baltimore is going to look like in 10 years, and I definitely want to be a part of it."