Archive for May 2013

My Experience as a Non-traditional Student at Georgia Highlands

The following was originally published in the Six Mile Post, a newspaper at Georgia Highlands College. A link to the original publication is supplied at the bottom of this page.

I am Joey Johnson, an admissions recruiter for Georgia Highlands College. I, like many other students, followed a very nontraditional path to Georgia Highlands College.

I always wanted to be a physician; however, I did not believe this was possible. So, I began working in a factory, which I loved, but it did not afford me the opportunity to treat and teach people like I yearned to do. Luckily for me, Georgia Highlands College offered very flexible class hours…and opportunity.

I began attending GHC in the day while working third shift. After I switched jobs, I was able to take the classes I needed online and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. while working first shift. Going to GHC offered many opportunities that other institutions could not.

While here, I was still able to be president of several organizations, attend valuable workshops and get scholarships that paid for me to continue going here while also attending another four-year institution.

I liked going to GHC so much that I took all of my medical school pre-requisites right here. I also got all but one of my necessary academic letters of recommendation from here.

Not once did these decisions hold me back. Instead, the medical schools loved my rationale for choosing to take this path. I told them that I felt GHC’s philosophy aligned more with my mission of wanting to grant access to people who might not otherwise have an opportunity in life.

As Cinderella says in the play “Into the Woods,” “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.” Notice how I cited that? Yeah, I learned that from GHC, too.

In life, one must pursue every opportunity to its fullest potential. I feel that GHC gives many students this chance, and I am glad to be a part of promoting this mission. In the end, I was accepted into several medical schools, and I feel this is a testament to the quality of education here.

I graduated from GHC last year and was fortunate enough to get a recruitment job here afterward – encouraging and counseling students to “keep moving” toward their goals. I will be gone next June, but I hope that I will have left an impact on someone’s life by then.

I empathize with the struggling student, the parents who give it their all and the student who is all jacked up on Monster just to make it through that 8 a.m. history class. I encourage anyone to come and talk with me about anything.

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” I know what it’s like, because I’ve been there, and I will never forget my path in life thus far–the one that runs straight through Georgia Highlands College.


Link to the original published article via the Six Mile Post website:

Article Published in Six Mile Post on being a Non-traditional Student


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Presentation on the Necessity of Interreligious Dialogue

Clicking on the link below will take you to Youtube to watch the presenation:

Presentation on the Necessity of Inter-religious Dialogue (Co-exist without Compromising or debasing)

Finding the Right Hair Style “do you”

The following article explains the trials I went through growing up in a small, rural, predominantly white town. It is light-hearted and meant to be read in a comical manner. I was an honors student, and I was often the only minority student in many of my classes. I struggled to fit in with both the white students and the black students. I usually hung out with my fellow classmates from the honors classes. For this reason, I was ridiculed by many of my black friends, but whenever I hung out with the wrong group of white people, I was quickly reminded that I was black. The following article portrays my struggles in finding my identity of who I was through the concept of finding the right hairstyle, or hairdo. It was written to be inspirational to minority students who may find themselves in the same situation that I grew up in. It’s original title was ” ‘Do You,” and it was published in a minority-focused e-magazine.


Whether one rocks the current hairstyles of today (like the fro-hawk, the Rihanna-inspired asymmetrical bob, or the resurrected “bro fro”), or the throwback styles of yesteryear (calling all House Party and Jheri-curl fans), it must be admitted that social life is simply incomplete until he or she attains the right ” ‘do.” While most people will readily concur that everyone does not have the face, confidence, or character to rock as many hairstyles as the umbrella princess herself, they also must admit that everyone has tried his or her fair share of experimental hair-dos. My advice – you have to ‘do you (hair-do, that is). I remember walking into my eighth-grade classroom after self-inflicting that briefly-popular Ginuwine sideburn on my face, only to have my friend tell me “Just stop honey, ’cause it ain’t working for you!” Needless to say, I had to get off that pony, recoup, and come back with something more commonplace to convince everyone that I was still that “same ol’ G.”

Eighth grade was definitely my experimental year. It was 1998, and Xzibit had not yet become the revamping famed star that he is now. Even so, I knew about him and tried to “pimp my ‘do” with cornrows one day (happy that I had even gained enough courage to grow my hair out that long), and I only achieved more embarrassing memories. Being different in my hometown was frowned upon; I guess it is because I grew up in a small country town. I even believe I saw Jeff Foxworthy drive through a couple of times just to take notes and get new material.

Anyway, I was often the only black student (the term “African-American” had not yet caught on, so I was still “black” back then) in class. I took many advanced placement classes and was in the gifted program. Therefore, I was by default the “go-to” guy for all questions about the black race, like “Why y’alls ‘un talks the way yer do?” But, I was also the butt of many jokes from my black friends because they said I was trying to be white. I was criticized for sitting with the Saltines (in efforts to be PC, I inserted a euphemism here) at lunch. I didn’t feel that I could win for losing. So, my hairstyle journey in many ways represented my path to finding my connection with the black race. I felt akin to Grandison – only my hairdo was my passage way. All in all, I just wanted to fit in and feel normal.

I never understood why when a black student does well academically, many of his black friends call him a sell-out. I also never understood why when there is only one black student in class, the teacher feels obligated to ask him or her in front of the entire class how a particular story about racism or the Antebellum South makes him or her feel. You know the situation; it’s when the teacher says, “(insert name), how do you feel about the use of this blatantly derogatory term – the (clears her throat) “N” word in Huck Finn?” Then everybody slowly and awkwardly turns around to stare at you, awaiting you response to the teacher’s stumbled-upon “black” question. I don’t know how many times, when all eyes were on me, I wanted to start spouting out “I ain’t a killa but don’t push me!” I wonder if that would have satisfied their appetites. Really, what were they expecting me to say?

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I finally settled on a simple mini-fro. And, before I cut it all off that summer, I cut a hole straight down in the top of it – so I could place a Coke can in it. I used my head to solve the cup-holder crisis that arises at high school football games. Speaking of high school, I found out that summer between eighth and ninth grade what ‘do worked best for me. I needed the low-cut fade, with a little more hair left on top. With this look, I could lock in the waves the night before if I wanted to, and I could also put in a little Blu Magic for that glossy shine whenever I felt froggy. I went from feeling like an outcast to being so fresh and so clean, clean. I had finally found what hair-do fit me best, and I rocked it all during my high school years.

Reflecting back on it all now, I can see many things in hindsight. For instance, whenever I wore my hair in braids, plats, or an afro, I was treated with less sincerity by teachers, business people, and other professionals. I judged this based upon the criteria of how much time the professional would spend talking to me, how often he or she would look around to see who else was noticing us conversing, and how helpful he or she was with the issues I had. In case you are wondering, yes, I actually had nothing better to do in my small town than to observe how different people reacted when I dressed a certain way or wore a particular hair style. I still do this occasionally; however, I will keep the instances in this essay strictly limited to my observations with different hairstyles.

I also noticed that I got more compliments whenever my hairstyle was kept short. I was told things like I looked “neat” or “professional.” This is the main reason for my wearing the short-fade haircut throughout my high school years. Not everyone can look as suave as Larry Fitzgerald with the braids. Now that I have graduated from my undergraduate college and will begin medical school this year, I am able to take these experiences with me and teach them to others. I am a counselor and advisor to our state and national award-winning college minority program – “Brother to Brother.” We recently won the “Chapter of the Year” award at the national Student African-American Brotherhood convention in 2012. I teach the students in our program the importance of presentation and perception.

I do not teach them to cut their hair if they have braids, plats, cornrows, or “bro fros.” I do not teach them to try to “fit in” with a particular demographic group – regardless of their ethnicity, race, or heritage. But, I do admonish them to find what style fits them best – and rock it! And, of course, I ask them to do so with integrity.

Braids, high-right low-lefts, cornrows, and fancy, sinuous Ginuwine-sideburns did not work for me; however, it may work for someone else. One day, my present hairstyle will not be possible for me to wear (I currently sport an all-over number 7 guard-cut). As I age, I may have to do the “Cesar” cut. I might even get depressed and do it to the extreme – the ” ‘do” that Bozo the Clown has made famous – just to prove that I still have hair that can grow somewhere else on my body besides my nose and ears. But, regardless of the hairstyle – you have to “do” you. Ethnic hair and fashions are beautiful. I love to see women of color take pride in their hairstyles, as well as men. However, sometimes we must keep within certain parameters in order to get where we need to go. This fact should not go neglected; Jay-Z’s hair proves my point. He can certainly wear it as uncombed as he wants to now and is still respectfully deserving of the title “Mr. Carter.” But, before he got to where he is now, he was recognized as the sharp-dressed, well-groomed rapper with plenty of intellect.

In conclusion, I have learned that the hairstyle is as important as the clothing that one wears. We all go through experimental stages with both. However, once one finds the style (in both hair and clothing) that works best for him, then he should perfect it – giving it a unique flavor within respectful parameters. I have learned in life (through experimenting with many different hairstyles) to experience, grow, learn, take constructive criticism, and modify when necessary. But, I do not ever let someone tear me down for what I have to work with. I will work with what I have and perfect it. And, I will do so not just with my hair – but, in all areas of life. Thank God for my hair, and thank God for my style I have found! My hair and its many styles have helped me become who I am today – a confident, mini-fro sporting, African-American male medical student who is happy to share his story!


Link to the original published article:

Article on being a Minority Student in Rural Town

Published Videos or Articles About or By Me

Articles in Pre Med Life:

Article for Premeds on Why Rural Medicine Shouldn’t be Discounted: (pg. 38)

Article on Caffeine Consumption and Limits: (pg. 30)

Shorter University Summer 2014 Magazine

On page 22 of this magazine

Publications in The New Physican

Feature Article for October 2014 on the Current State of Minority Medicine

Short article published in the 20th edition of TNP

Article in LMU-DCOM COMmunity LINC:

Article on Scholarship and Student DO of the Month (p. 4 and 25)

Article Published in Six Mile Post About Me Being a Non-traditional Student:

On Being a Non-traditional Student

Articles in Rome News Tribune About My Accomplishments and brief bios:

 Joey Johnson Rome, GA (Six Degrees)

Joey Johnson, Scholarship and LMU DCOM

Joey Johnson, White Coat Ceremony Article

My Award-winning Speech on Affirmative Action (Georgia Highlands first-annual speech competition):

Affirmative Action

Presentation at Georgia Highlands College on the Necessity of Inter-religious Dialogue (Co-existing without Compromising) via Youtube:

GHC Presentation on Inter-religious Dialogue

Article on my wife, Jessica Johnson

Nursing Major Eager to Work







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