Adult Student Center Award

Virginia M. “Gina” Johnson

The Adult Student Center Award was established to recognize one student over the age of 25 who has demonstrated extraordinary effort while pursuing higher education. In addition, the award recipient demonstrates the ability to overcome obstacles, maintains multiple roles while furthering his/her education, serves as a role model for other students, and achieves academically. The 2015 recipient of this award is Virginia M. “Gina” Johnson, a student at the Downtown Campus. Gina graduates in May with her Associate in Arts degree with a focus in Business. Her dream is to open a non-profit organization that will assist individuals in becoming self-sufficient and give them the tools they need to remain self-sufficient.

To quote from JCTC President Dr. Tony Newberry, one of her many nominators:
“Higher education at JCTC has been a transforming experience. Gina’s personal story is one of extraordinary hope and persistence, with the result that today she is poised to achieve one of her dreams, which is to earn her associates degree, which she sees as a milestone in a larger journey to bachelor's and master's degrees. Also noteworthy is the importance she places on setting an example for her four children, who she is committed to setting on a path which includes higher education goals.”
Gina’s nomination was supported by many other staff and faculty here at the college. Quotes from two of them:

    • “Gina has served this year as the Student Representative on the JCTC Board of Directors, where she has impressed the entire Board with her inspiring success story and her articulate and insightful comments about student issues.”
    • “Her story inspired us as the servants of this institution, to make sure we never give up on the students who want to be here, who need to be here, and who need a little extra help along the way to stay here.”

Like many adult learners, Gina’s enrollment in college was the result of multiple challenges that forced her to refocus her life’s work and goals. Adult learners typically find themselves constantly balancing multiple roles and responsibilities. Gina is no exception. As the mother of four children, she has overcome challenges, including homelessness, lack of transportation, deaths of close family members, and unemployment while pursuing her education. Nonetheless, she has always overcome and maintains an amazingly positive attitude. Gina shared that, “I chose to attend JCTC because of the convenience and cost but stayed and have been successful in completing my degree because of the love and support of others shown towards me.”

To name just a few of her other accomplishments while she has been a JCTC student:

    • Selected as the student speaker for Commencement 2015
    • She is the author of a poem about JCTC called “Jefferson Proud”
    • Participant in the Ready to Work program
    • Student worker and Program Participant in TRiO Student Support Services
    • Currently involved in the FYE Peer Leader program
    • Student Representative on the JCTC Board of Directors
    • Community involvement: She is very involved at her church, serves on the Parent Advisory Committee for Big Brother Big Sisters, Secretary for the Title I Parent Advisory Committee for JCPS; Vice President, former President, of PTA at her daughter’s school, and also serves as the Chairperson for the Family Resource Center Advisory Council at the same school

Gina credits her husband and children all working together to keep the family going. She says, “My oldest daughter has been a godsend for me. She helps me out tremendously. My kids know that it’s a team effort so everyone plays their part in order to make everything run as smoothly as possible. Our favorite motto is "TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK".

As the recipient of the Adult Student Center Award, Gina was asked to select a “Champion” – a person in her life who has provided outstanding support and contributed to her academic and personal achievements. Gina selected her sister, Linnette Greer, as her Champion.

Gina stated that , “Linnette has no idea how much she inspires me or how much she has encouraged me to be a better person simply through her actions without even speaking a word. She is an awesome role model for everyone that she meets. She is kind, giving and driven. She has overcome great obstacles in her life such as the death of a son, the death of her father, witnessing and experiencing abuse growing up in public housing and having a parent who used drugs and alcohol. Today, she has been married for 14 years, owns her own home, owns her vehicle, graduated high school and went to college. She is putting her son through college now, involved at her church and helping raise her three granddaughters (children of her deceased son). She has held her current job for 21 years. She is still always smiling when you see her, always giving a word of encouragement to others and always confessing her faith. Her consistency, faithfulness and determination is unmatched by anyone I know. It is what fuels me to keep pushing because I have always admired the fight in her. Nothing can stop her. If she can endure all of that and still press on, then so can I! She is definitely my SHERO!”

Congratulations to you both!