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Meet Samantha Johnson

Drexel English student Samantha Johnson

Degree: BA English ’21
Concentration: Literary Studies
Research Interests: African American diaspora in the incarceration system; “Is America in a new Jim Crow era?”; how segregation has surpassed the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s
Co-ops: Lindy Scholars Program Assistant, Lindy Center for Civic Engagement; Test Development Service Assistant/Editorial Production Assistant, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)
Extracurricular Activities: President, Multicultural Greek Council; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity; CoAS Student Advisory Board; Advisor, Lindy Scholars
Awards: Ralph Most Memorial Scholarship (2017); Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow (2019)

What have been some of the most important elements of your experiences as an English major?
My newfound ability able annotate non-literary texts and write research papers about non-English specific topics has become extremely important to me. Before the start of college, I believed that I would be focusing most of my time annotating literature. But during my time here, I’ve annotated and written research papers of texts from various disciplines. I’m now able to write about sociological theories and apply them to literature as well as the world today. Taking other humanities and sciences courses has broadened my writing style and has helped improved my writing in my ENGL classes. I have a better idea of the important pieces in a text, and I can write some pretty impressive papers from it!

Which element of your Drexel experience do you identify with most, and why?
I’m closely connected to my extracurricular activities. While academics are extremely valuable to me, the organizations that I am a part of have helped mold me into the student I am today. The friends I’ve made over the past few years have become family to me. I value their similarities, as well as their differences, and every one of them has become a source of strength and encouragement for me. My leadership positions allow me to contribute more to the campus; they enable me to be a part of the change taking place both in the organizations and in Drexel.

What has made your experience at Drexel special or unique?
I think Drexel’s campus style has made my experience really unique. Drexel has this really cool city/suburb vibe that makes me feel at home. Unlike most campuses where you’re living in a dorm almost all years at school, Drexel kind of forces you to live off campus and be independent. The co-op system also pushes you towards that independence. I really love this about Drexel, because I truly feel like I’m learning and experiencing how to be an adult rather than just being told how to.

Tell us about your recent courses, trips, research experiences and/or co-ops.
During winter term, I took AFAS 101, Intro to Africana Studies. As a Black student at Drexel, I thought I already knew what the course would be about. But in the first few weeks I was surprised to learn that the conversation focused on more than just black history from the past. We discussed responses to current events, had open discussion about the “black and white experience” in America, and looked into the experiences of black people around the world and throughout time. My greatest takeaway from the course was how relatable the content was to myself and to my classmates, despite many of the texts being published decades before our time. It opened our eyes to the varying changes occurring throughout time.

What is one of the things that a faculty member has told you that has stuck with you?
I have truly appreciated being in Dr. Chris Nielson’s freshman seminar and his Shakespeare course. He is a brilliant professor who invites discussion and challenges, and has always shared with me how much he values my contributions to class discussions. He’s always eager to help clarify a point or expand upon an idea; being a student of his has made me love Shakespeare and his works far more than I ever did in high school! He’s one of my favorite professors, and his belief in my potential as an English major is invaluable to me.

What advice do you have for a high school student looking for an undergraduate program?
Don’t choose a program because it’ll satisfy others. Choose a program that will satisfy you. College is about exploration, about discovering more of what makes you, you. There is no better way to discover that than by choosing a program that suits your interests. You’ve spent most of your life figuring out your passion, now is the time to make it your future career. And besides, if it doesn’t pan out the way you thought it would, there will always be another option!