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A Graduation Story: Erica Johnson’s JSU experience includes research in Brazil

Erica Johnson never imagined her decision to attend Jackson State University would lead to a research opportunity in Brazil. Johnson, who has a 3.97 grade point average, was selected for a highly competitive research program and traveled to South America last summer. She says the experience will be among the many college memories she’ll carry with her after she graduates next month.

Erica Johnson

Erica Johnson

“I know the education I received at Jackson State helped to get me in the program,” Johnson says. “The experiences I’ve had here have been eye-opening and educational on the academic level and the social level. I have a sensitive spot in my heart for HBCUs. I knew the education that I would get from an HBCU would be unmatched at any other school. Jackson State protects and promotes their own.”

Johnson will receive her B.S. degree in Healthcare Administration during the Spring 2014 Commencement on May 3. Though she hasn’t decided where she’ll attend graduate school, she feels the research she conducted at Florianopolis in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, makes her an attractive student prospect.

Johnson applied for the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program at the urging of her advisor, Clarence Johnson, director of JSU’s Healthcare Administration Program.

MHIRT, administered by Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., provides international research training opportunities to qualified undergraduate, graduate and medical students from socially or economically-disadvantaged groups historically underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research careers. Erica Johnson’s research focused on anti-depressant therapy.

Clarence Johnson, no relation to Erica Johnson, said he knew she would be a good candidate for the program.

“I identified Erica as an emerging young scholar and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for her to interact with peers from other institutions and get exposure to international research,” Clarence Johnson said.

Erica Johnson, who grew up in Canton, Miss., will be a first-generation college graduate.

“I’m grateful for it. I’m humbled by it. It’s an exciting feeling,” she said

Jewelry Johnson said she’s watched her daughter work hard to earn her degree.  Jewelry Johnson’s two other children are graduates of Millsaps College and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“She’s not working to get an education just to earn money. She wants to give back to people in need,” Jewelry Johnson said of her daughter.

Erica Johnson said her long-term goal after graduate school is to be a hospital administrator or work with health departments or community organizations.

“Graduating with a B.S. in Healthcare Administration would position me for further academic advancement, and the connections linked to JSU would prove invaluable,” she said.

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