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Choose901 Alumni to Watch: Princess Johnson

Princess Johnson, an alumnus of Soulsville Charter School, is currently a senior at The University of Knoxville. She seeks to understand the inner workings of the human mind and has the desire to see how she can use her findings to improve the city of Memphis. Social justice, mentorship, and the arts are at the heart of everything she does.

How did you decide to study psychology?

Before college, I would call myself pretty good in the math department. I went to an accounting camp to see if I could get some more expertise about the content. I went ahead and declared accounting as my major. After two years of taking general education classes and some of the classes within my major, I was not feeling it like I felt it in the years before. So I went to my advisor and expressed my concerns, and the change wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The psychology elective I took had sparked more of an interest. I actually enjoyed learning about certain ways the human mind works. I was either going to pursue a major in accounting or psychology, so the scaled tipped over for psychology.

Why are you passionate about psychology?

My passion for psychology stems from the heart and mind I have. I see how the world can be seen as evil and unloving. Psychology wasn’t my first major. With accounting, I wasn’t fulfilled and yearning to learn more, yet when it comes down to understanding why a person does the things they do, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. And to find out there’s more to it than that question— it felt like I hit the mother load. People need psychologists just as much as they need business majors because emotions are just as real as monetary things. The world and those in it need balance, and I would love to support that balance.

Do you have a mentor? If yes, who? How did you all decide to be mentors/mentee? If no, how impactful do you believe a mentor relationship could be?

I had a mentor my freshman year and I was not satisfied due to inconsistency and limited conversation. When I became a mentor, I took pride and value in being that person they can look up to and see that someone cares. Having a mentor is a wonderful asset because it can change a perspective about the situation one is in. Also, mentorship could turn bad behaviors and points of view to something positive just by the presence of a positive influence.

What are some important lessons you learned in college?

This college career of mine has brought a ton of lessons. One of the most important lessons I learned was to speak up. Seems basic, but I have seen the light! It has given me the opportunity to see what I am capable of. When I wanted to do better on assignments, I didn’t understand some material, or I wasn’t able to finish on time, the worst thing I did was keep quiet. The moment I saw that teachers want to see my best work and cared how I obtained the skills, I figured it was time to let go of the stubbornness. I also saw how putting in the effort will get you further.

What does your dream job look like?

I have come to the realization that my purpose in life is to ultimately serve. I am determined to be a stepping stool for another being.  Becoming a counselor in the education field or even having my own practice is a dream that I wish to make a reality in years to come. Listening to and being there for children is such a great gift. Wow! They need me and I need them.

How will you use psychology to impact the city of Memphis?

Coming back to my hometown after learning and absorbing so much, I hope to utilize the content by simply engaging in the community. My Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree is set forth to maintain a balance between the world and yourself. We are all here on earth to gain self-actualization! I want to help people grow.

What is your favorite thing about Memphis?

I am in love with the city. If you aren’t from Memphis, I’m sorry. Good things come from the bad. We take the negative perspectives and do the best we can to make sure positive influences are present. Memphis is full of love and laughter, and I always miss it when I am away. We have a strong pride in the things we can bring to others and what we can do in our own community. Despite the opinions of the outsiders looking in, Memphis has a lot to offer through experiencing it. 

What is one thing you would improve about the city?

Being unified is the perfect support and motivation to do better! From six hours away, I’ve seen Memphis grow culturally based on art such as dance and music. Now that there’s a foundation laid, I want to improve the education system. I believe we can improve children’s learning by implanting some type of art in the curriculum.

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