This story was originally published as part of the winter edition of The Master’s University Magazine. Read the full magazine here.
Joanna Johnson isn’t one to overlook an opportunity to grow.
During her time at The Master’s University, she has juggled a double-major workload, thrown herself into extracurriculars, and pursued internships to prepare for a career in computer science. She’s also been prepared spiritually through chapel and the influence of godly professors.
In the midst of it all, she exudes a winsome enthusiasm and gratitude for the doors the Lord has opened. Her professors are eager to see what she does next.
* * *
Born in India, Johnson moved to Southern California with her family when she was 5 and later relocated to Santa Clarita while a junior in high school. It was then that she heard about The Master’s University.
Johnson took her very first college tour at TMU, and she remembers loving the campus. Since arriving as a freshman, she’s only fallen more in love with the school.
“After coming here, I was truly blessed by the chapel sermons and by how the professors here teach,” she says. “Another blessing is the fact that TMU is small, so you really get to know everyone. It feels like a family. Being at a smaller school, you really grow academically and spiritually, and you do that growing together. It’s wonderful.”
Johnson hit the ground running, double-majoring in applied mathematics and computer science.
“My dad is a software engineer,” she says. “Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to go into computer science. So I followed in his footsteps.”
As for the mathematics, that’s just for fun, and because she has a knack for it.
She has enjoyed both tracks. From the enthusiastic math lectures of Dr. Tai-Danae Bradley, to the practical preparation offered by Prof. Justyn Lee’s Software Engineering course, she feels the experience has been highly valuable.
“All of the courses have been well-designed, and they are structured very intentionally,” Johnson says. “There’s no busy work — every part builds on what came before, and every part is useful.”
Johnson has also stayed busy outside the classroom. In fact, she helped bring a club back from the dead.
“I wanted to be a part of the Computer Science Club here at TMU, but it had gone dormant because of COVID. So Dr. (John) Eickemeyer, Prof. (David) Crater and I discussed it, and we were like, ‘OK, we should revive this club.’ So we did!”
Johnson and her friends in the computer science program were able to build momentum with the club, and she eventually transferred leadership to another member so it can continue on after she leaves TMU.
As if this project wasn’t enough, she’s also been actively involved with career preparation opportunities such as internships and “The Master Interview,” an interview competition put on by TMU’s Office of Career Services.
“I do want to go into software development, though I’m not 100% sure which part of it yet,” she says, so she’s been exploring her options. “I was able to participate in the RISE leadership program at Capgemini, which is a tech consulting company. The program allowed me to work at their location in Atlanta, Georgia, and go through a mini training program in how to be a consultant.”
She has also worked as a software engineering intern at bookreport, a software development company in the K-12 education sector.
“I worked on front-end and back-end development, and I also gained experience with different coding languages,” she says. “I gained insight into the software as a whole, how to work on a team, how to do a development sprint, and things like that. You learn all of this in the Software Engineering course at TMU, but getting to apply it in practice is a great opportunity.”
Needless to say, Johnson has made an impression on the TMU community — and particularly her professors.
“Joanna is one of our top students. There’s no question about it,” says Prof. David Crater, chair of the engineering and computer science department. “In addition to performing excellently in her courses and being involved in the department’s club, she also just has a very sweet, warmhearted faith. Her parents raised her to love Christ and love the church.
“She, like all of our best students, recognizes the opportunity that she has here at TMU and wants to make the most of it. She knows that she’s not going to end up in a great career situation if she doesn’t work hard, both academically and in extracurriculars. So she just has a great attitude — very mature, cheerful and joyful. She’s always happy every time I see her. And it’s not fake happiness. It’s genuine, joyful gratitude for what the Lord has done for her.”
Crater believes great opportunities lie ahead for Johnson. In the meantime, Johnson is just grateful for what she has right now.
“It’s by God’s grace that I’m here studying at TMU,” she says. “The friends I’ve made here and my professors are a huge support for me. My parents have also supported me greatly. Their sacrifices have been crucial to getting me this far.”
Read more about TMU’s School of Science, Mathematics, Technology & Health here.
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