Megan “MJ” Johnson ’18

English and History Major
Posted on December 13th, 2022 by

“In rejecting the ‘have to’ script, I have become the change I wished to see in myself.

The first year was a bit of a rough start for this first-generation college student. “I came to Gustavus feeling like an incredibly serious student. I felt like there were things I had to do, like study communications because I was in speech in high school. I blocked myself from having some fun.”

But, as most readers will attest, Gustavus has a way of changing your game. “The point of college is to evolve. So, I decided to do what I want and what felt right and study what I’m interested in.”

What felt right was English and History and studying abroad in London and Japan. She still participated in speech at Gustavus, earning Minnesota collegiate state champion twice, plus national ranking in the Congressional debate category. But in shifting her academic major toward her passions, “I ended up being more successful at school,” she says. And that gave her confidence to apply for a Fulbright teaching scholarship.

Right before graduation, she was awarded that Fulbright. Soon, she will head to Vietnam.

Will the “have to” self-talk creep in again? “I do have this idea that by the time I get back from Vietnam I will be a different person,” she says. “I will change how I view myself and how I view others.” That’s likely to be the case. But exactly how it happens will remain a mystery until it happens, and Johnson’s not hung up on the right or wrong way to go about her seismic changes. “I’m day-by-day right now. I’m going with the flow, and that’s okay.”

She thanks Gustavus for giving her the happy, healthy space to become herself, on her terms. “I like to say that Gustavus is the living room of colleges. It’s more than a home. It’s where I feel most comfortable in a home. And it has changed my life trajectory.

“It sounds dramatic but it is. Gustavus is a good place to go, and grow, and go.”


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