Lauren and Alethea Johnson
For Lauren and Alethea Johnson, learning is a holistic endeavor. They share similar educational pursuits and extracurricular interests. Both mindfully cultivate their spiritual growth; they draw on each others’ support, knowing their familial bond is resolute. And it is no coincidence that both women chose to earn their degrees through the University of Alaska Southeast in Ketchikan, using our campus as a stepping-stone to higher ground.
Lauren graduated with her Associate of Arts degree in May of 2006. She relates, “I stayed here in Ketchikan for a few reasons. It was the best choice for me economically because of the comparatively low tuition rates. Also, I had my support system here. My mom has always encouraged me as an artist.” Alethea recalls, “She has been writing reams ever since the first grade!” Today, Lauren uses her talents leading children’s ministries at the First Assembly of God, and is immersed in an internship with her church with hopes to go on to do world-wide missions work.
After watching her daughter complete her educational goals, and then being invited by her bishop to earn a license in canon law, Alethea decided to resume her college career. She says, “I was waiting for the right time to go back to school, and when my bishop suggested I earn a church law license, I considered the idea and realized that I wanted to do that.” She is taking many prerequisite courses through UAS – Ketchikan, with plans to earn an Associate of Arts degree here and ultimately earn a Bachelor’s degree in theology from the Catholic Distance University. After that, Alethea plans to attend St. Paul’s in Ottawa, Canada, where she will study canon law. Alethea remembers, “I was nervous about going back to school, but both of my girls told me, ‘Mom! You’re in the demographic of students who do well!’ They helped to convince me.” Although Alethea is an accomplished mother and an insightful woman, she lacked confidence as a writer. She remembers, “Claire Bennett and Dawn Allen-Herron were excellent teachers. Both encouraged me in my writing. The environment Bennett created in class felt very safe, and as a result, I was able to write freely and find my own voice. Allen-Herron’s assignments really forced me to examine my philosophical beliefs, take positions on issues, and write about them. I grew a lot from those classes.”
Lauren and Alethea have benefited from more than their close mother-daughter ties; they have also appreciated the motley mix of students at our Ketchikan campus. Lauren states, “Our college is about community. We have ex-loggers, fishermen, young people, mothers with young children, and many generations of people all attending classes together. I love that our campus has enabled me to expand my social sphere.” Many non-traditional students take advantage of the close proximity and excellent education that the Ketchikan campus provides. Lauren and Alethea appreciate the broad age-range of students, and they value the closeness fostered.
Not only is there a varied blend of students, but also innovative services available for UAS-Ketchikan students to take advantage of classes offered through other University of Alaska campuses and out-of-state colleges. For instance, Lauren took a distance English course through the Fairbanks campus. She remembers, “I had to work hard. I was forced to become disciplined in my studies because I was working independently. Distance courses are not easy, but they offer a tangible way to earn the necessary credits.” Lauren has experienced both the solitary distance, and local classes, and she feels the two different modes of learning have enriched her college career.
Alethea and Lauren are prone to find meaningful connections, from the mind-body duality, made more poignant to Alethea in Dr. Houtcooper’s Anatomy and Physiology class, to the spiritual relationships each is seeking to strengthen in her own life. Each has drawn on the Holy Spirit, through prayer, to guide her choices in life. UAS-Ketchikan is the perfect tool, enabling these women to attain their worthy goals.
InFocus Piece written by Dawn Rauwolf