When Steven Johnson began his academic career in mid-1990s San Francisco, he didn’t realize the circuitous path he would end up taking to earn his eventual degree from Rutgers University or the benefits his unique college experience would offer along the way. Johnson’s academic pursuit brought him to Seattle in the next decade, while his professional career led him to work with sustainable energy and non-governmental organizations. He credits his time at the two schools with teaching him a necessary balance and, “how to manage my time well enough to get all A's at both schools.”


Reflecting on this period, Johnson says his time in community college “taught me how to discipline myself to accomplish the coursework at a high level. I was having dinner at midnight when I was enrolled at San Francisco City College three nights a week.” As his life and career unfolded, Johnson found his way to the East Coast and back to undergraduate work. By Fall of 2019, he had begun taking Rutgers-Camden classes through the Rutgers Statewide program, a program that brings Rutgers courses, faculty, and, ultimately, degrees to students at partnering community colleges. Johnson embraced the Liberal Studies program offered locally by Rutgers Statewide, which he praised for having open options that give students plentiful room to develop a rigorous course of study to push themselves toward new accomplishments.


Johnson’s professional work consists of, “administrative work for a regional hospital that requires me to talk to anywhere from 700 - 1000 people a week.” Discussing the need to then attend classes after working all day, Johnson expresses finding the evening classes to be a welcome respite from the demands of his job, as they were based around personal interests. On how his degree is useful to his administrative role, Johnson expounds, “I have to be bilingual in Spanish and English every day. My Rutgers degree helped me learn Spanish quickly, as well as how to present healthcare information to the public in a professional and engaging way. I use my degree by the hour at my job.”


Speaking with Johnson the afternoon before walking in the 2023 Commencement, on Tuesday, May 16th, his pride and excitement were palpable. To incoming and returning students, Johnson advises, “Don't take your classes week-to-week.  Work your semester schedule backwards in time so you can be best prepared to meet deadlines,” as well as, “Be visible! Participate and always make sure your professors know you in class.” Thirty-seven years into his life as a student, Steven Johnson is a graduate with a most promising future.


Rutgers Statewide offers the opportunity to pursue your degree locally at six different community college locations, in partnership with Rutgers. Please visit https://statewide.rutgers.edu/ to learn more.