LSC-University Park Professor Turns Career Into Calling. Personal Journey, Divine Intervention Lead to Passion for Student Success
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 4:40 PM
HOUSTON, TX / ACCESSWIRE / July 10, 2019 / At Lone Star College-University Park, criminal justice professor Jermaine Johnson, Ph.D., has proven that despite hardships and setbacks, personal growth and professional fulfillment are not just possible, but probable. Johnson’s journey growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, has taken him from gridiron star, to law enforcement professional, to college professor, to dedicated mentor.
Students at LSC-University Park can take away a lot from hearing Johnson’s story and learn an important lesson: what you believed was an end goal might actually be the beginning. Johnson can help teach students this lesson, because he’s lived through it. Whether it was his determination to make a better life for himself and escape his impoverished childhood community, attempting to balance his chaotic academic career while playing football for a college team or working in law enforcement, all of his accomplishments, and setbacks, led Johnson to where he is today: LSC-University Park.
This year, Johnson was awarded the Faculty Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) in Austin, Texas. Johnson was also honored by the League for Innovation in the Community College with their John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award to celebrate the outstanding contributions and leadership skills he’s shown during his time teaching at LSC-University Park.
At LSC-University Park, a strong team of competent and compassionate faculty members is always encouraging students to strive for greatness.
“Jermaine’s work at LSC-University Park is an example of what makes our college outstanding,” said Dr. Shah Ardalan, LSC-University Park president. “His ability to connect with students, coach them and support them during their academic journey are all characteristics of an amazing educator. It’s because of him, and other faculty like him at LSC-University Park, that our students can learn important skills they’ll benefit from for the rest of their lives. Jermaine is more than just an exceptional criminal justice faculty member; he’s an integral part of our institution aiming to teach and care for the whole student.”
But Johnson says his future hasn’t always been so bright. He and his family had very limited means during his youth. Johnson poured himself into sports and was rewarded for his efforts with a full ride football scholarship to the University of Alabama.
While being on the team was a dream come true, he floundered academically.
“There was one semester when I was flunking all of my classes,” Johnson said. “One day, I was sitting in study hall, and the adviser came in and said, ‘Well Jermaine, I want to tell you that it’s not looking like you’re going to graduate in enough time. Your scholarship is going to run out.’ So, reality hit.”
Johnson’s adviser told him about different degree options to pursue and how to to earn his bachelor’s degree in four years. The path he chose was criminal justice. Johnson said it is a program he never thought he would be interested in because of where he grew up.
Johnson learned a tremendous amount during his time on the force and has since used his knowledge to help craft the way he teaches students to this day. But even after Johnson’s journey seemed to be complete, life threw him another curveball. After serving as a police officer, and eventually a detective in New Orleans, Johnson lost his job working for the department. It was a huge blow for him, and one from which he didn’t think he’d ever recover.
It wasn’t easy for Johnson to bounce back after losing his job, but in what he calls “divine intervention,” a faculty member at an area school reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in teaching. He accepted, and after realizing the impact he could have teaching young people, Johnson decided to leave policing in the past to focus on educating.
After receiving his master's degree combined with a move to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and a few teaching jobs at other area community colleges, Johnson’s “divine intervention” led him to LSC-University Park. While working as a full-time faculty member, Johnson earned a doctoral degree in criminal justice.
During his five years at LSC-University Park, Johnson has used his leadership and life experience to support students and lead them to success. He began the Justice Agents of Change, a student organization for LSC-University Park criminal justice students to extend their studies outside of the classroom.
When Johnson thought “divine intervention” had nearly run its course, a new, and what Johnson says is the most important purpose he’s ever had, propelled its way into his life: helping young people during their darkest time.
“A lot of my students I encounter are depressed,” Johnson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. When someone at this level can look you in your eyes and say ‘I’m a different person because I met you,’ that’s the reward.”
Others note his dedication and commitment to helping young people excel academically and in life.
“I have had the great opportunity to witness the genuine care that Dr. Johnson provides his students here at LSC-University Park,” said Dr. Lawrence Brandyburg, dean of behavioral and social sciences. “I became a true believer in his commitment to student success while attending an all-day workshop that he sponsored in support of at-risk males. His commitment to changing and impacting young people’s lives inside and outside of the classroom isn’t just something he does nine to five, Monday through Friday. It’s his true calling every day.”
The LSC-University Park Criminal Justice Department offers an Associate of Arts degree with a Field of Study in Criminal Justice. The program prepares students to enter a variety of careers in the criminal justice system or transfer to a four-year institution to continue working toward a bachelor’s degree.
Students in the criminal justice program receive cutting-edge classroom instruction blended with real-life scenarios. Hands-on educational experiences include investigating mock crime scenes, fingerprinting, handcuffing and participating in mock trials. Courses are taught by diverse, highly qualified faculty members and offered in face-to-face, fully online and hybrid formats. For those who need additional flexibility, LSC-University Park also offers criminal justice courses in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Established in 2012, LSC-University Park has been recognized as one of the fastest growing and most innovative institutions of higher education in the country. Under its founding president, Dr. Shah Ardalan, LSC-University Park is devoted to impacting the community’s prosperity and upward mobility through student success. The college’s competent and compassionate faculty and staff provide students with holistic and immersive education and training in disciplines and industries that meet current and future workforce needs. Standout college facilities include the Center for Science & Innovation, the Energy & Manufacturing Institute, the Learning Innovation Labs and the Geology Rock Wall. For more information about LSC-University Park, please visit LoneStar.edu/UP or call 281.290.2600.
Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 99,000 students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of nearly $3 billion. LSC consists of seven colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.
A fulfilling journey. Jermaine Johnson speaks at the Spring 2019 LSC-University Park commencement ceremony
Interim Executive Director
SOURCE: Lone Star College