Mother of five Lashonda Johnson is taking on the challenge of going back to school at Florida A&M. Her anticipated graduation date is December 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in social work.
Johnson, 39, said she has dreams of becoming an elementary school guidance counselor, and plans to pursue her graduate degree in counselor education. Johnson said she went back to school to set an example for her daughters.
“I wanted to show my girls that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough for it,” Johnson said. “I have to show my girls that the sky is the limit if you remain focused in life and keep God first.”
During the day she goes to work, and attends classes at night. “I love school, I love learning all that there is for me to know” said Johnson, “I am a dedicated student and I work extremely hard to succeed in school.”
“I’ve learned so much from her, just from watching her in class,” said Jared Walker, a senior education student who shares a class with Johnson. “The fact that she is going back to school and handling her family business has made me want to work harder in achieving my own personal goals.”
Continuing her education has come with its share of pain, Johnson said. Last November, Johnson lost her younger sister, Samantha Clark, to cancer. Johnson said that period was the biggest heartache of her life, but she had no time to grieve because of the 3-year-old daughter Clark left behind.
“I knew I had to pull myself together, stop all the crying and raise this little girl,” said Johnson.
Clark, who Johnson described as her biggest supporter, was the forerunner when Johnson was debating going back to school.
“I have a duty to take care of her daughter,” Johnson said, as tears begin to fill her eyes. “Her daughter is now my daughter, and I give her all the love that I have to offer.”
With seven mouths to feed, helping provide a stable home environment for her children and paying for two college tuitions, Johnson admits her financial situation was dire for most of her college career.
“Honestly, we have struggled in the past, but I along with my family remain faithful and dedicated to the word of God, and because of that, I am taken care of,” Johnson said. “I don’t have to worry about what tomorrow will bring because I know who holds my tomorrow.”
Nicole Johnson, Lashonda’s oldest daughter who also attends FAMU, said her mother is her biggest inspiration.
“My mom has been and will always be my biggest hero,” Nicole said. “She is the glue that keeps our family together. She’s passed down to me and my sisters her drive and determination to press on no matter what.”