Presidential Scholar Emily Johnson wanted more class variety than her high school could provide, so she dual enrolled at the University of North Georgia for two and a half years. It may seem odd to some that she graduated with her associate’s degree a week before her high school graduation from Robert W. Johnson High School in Gainesville, Ga., but not for Emily.
“I saw this as an opportunity to get free college credits and learn what I’d like to major in after high school. That’s a win-win,” she said.
Though Johnson loved her high school days at as senior captain of the cross country team and being class valedictorian, it was a 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Madsen, who opened her eyes to a possible career.
“I was on a mock trial team as an attorney and we won the trial,” she said. “Digging into the case file, calling on witnesses and strategizing was all so exciting. It made me think of law as a possible career.”
Fast forward a few years and Johnson found herself as an intern for a probate judge in Hall County.
“Getting to shadow a judge, sit in on proceedings and work the front desk gave me a broad picture of the courts work and how they serve,” she said. “It really is a career that gives back to the community and that’s important to me.”
She plans to major in political science and then pursue her law degree. Ideally, she’ll be accepted into the accelerated bachelor’s/J.D. program which allows students to complete both degrees in just six years.
“Being a part of the Honors College really appealed to me because it’s almost like a small school inside a larger one,” Johnson said. “It’s a nice transition, especially if you’re from a small town.”
She may join the award-winning Georgia State Mock Trial team and see if it instills the same passion as it did in 7th grade.
Just like in high school, Johnson is always looking at how to make the most of her time when she has a goal.
To learn more about the Presidential Scholarship, Georgia State’s most prestigious and valuable academic award, go to honors.gsu.edu/the-presidential-scholarship.
Story by Boyd Baker, photo by Meg Buscema