- Nina Johnson
Program / Year
Student Affairs Administration ’18
San Francisco, CA
What led you to enroll at Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling?
I applied and enrolled to Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling because of the social justice focus.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your chosen field of study?
As a first generation college student, I faced a lot of barriers throughout my undergraduate experience. Fortunately, whenever I faced a hurdle, a Student Affairs professional was there to support me and provide me with the resources needed to succeed. After I graduated from Sonoma State University, I worked for Boys & Girls club as a coordinator and then director. I worked with low-income students of color who didn’t see higher education as an option. In that position I worked to create a college going culture and even took my 5th and 6th graders to Sonoma State University to meet with Student Affairs professionals to learn more about higher education. Recognizing that I could only do so much in my position, I chose to pursue a degree in Student Affairs to work towards mitigating barriers to higher education for low-income students of color.
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice means that despite the many identities we all carry, we have the right to be treated equitably and exist without experiencing violence. Equity includes access to fresh and healthy food, stable housing, and education.
How do you hope to apply your social justice education in your chosen career?
As I transition out of graduate school and into my career, I will apply social justice in all that I do. I will be working for a law firm that provides free legal assistance to survivors of sexual assault. Recognizing interlocking systems of oppression, I will take intersectionality into account when working with survivors to mitigate violence and provide the resources needed to live a stable life free of violence.
Where have you been working/interning as a student, and what does that work entail?
As a student, I have worked in the office of Student Rights & Responsibilities on the CAS campus. In this position I met with students individually to discuss potential policy violations. Utilizing the restorative justice framework, I empowered students to take ownership of their own actions and come up with ways to restore the harm their actions caused in the Lewis & Clark community. In this position I also investigated sexual misconduct complaints utilizing a trauma-informed approach. This semester I have also interned with the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task force. In this position I created a best practices document for campus practitioners providing guidance around working with students who have been accused of sexual violence in compliance with the 2017 Interim Guidance on Campus Sexual Misconduct.
Who has been your most influential professor, and why?
Dolly Nguyen has been my most influential professor by far. Her knowledge, experience, and passion for mitigating structural inequality has inspired me to figure out ways to disrupt the system wherever I am. Dolly empowered me to take control of my education and helped me to identify tangible next steps for my career.
What career will you be pursuing after graduation? Did you intend for this to be your career path when you enrolled?
When I enrolled in the SAA program, I wanted to work in student involvement. Through my experience with my graduate assistantship and internship with SATF, I have become passionate about empowering survivors of sexual violence. My next endeavor will be off-campus at a law firm and I am excited to work with survivors in a legal capacity. I am hoping to attend law school in the next few years and become a victim rights lawyer.