That old saying that has to do with “small packages and good things” surely rings true with this edition of the EDP Student Spotlight, where the light again is shining on a student who is in the home stretch towards graduation, Dorena Cherize Totimah Johnson. Looking back on the journey she took to be at Fredonia, our petite, Ms. Johnson (at 5 feet tall and with 3 first names), has lived a very large life in her twenty-two years!
As a young child, Dorena’s family literally had to flee from her birthplace, Liberia (located on the Western coast of Africa), to the nearby Ivory Coast, escaping a brutal civil war. Unable to speak French when they arrived there, the family persevered and eventually made their way to the United States in 1992. Dorena, reflecting back on both her escape from war and her life, said: “When my family came to this country…we had nothing but the clothes on our backs. Through this experience, I have learned how it is to have nothing but family and to lose everything…Growing up I had no father. I lost him to the atrocities of a senseless war and through that I have learned to understand how fragile and delicate life is.”
Entering Fredonia in fall, 2008, Dorena is now a candidate for Teaching Certification in Adolescence Social Studies Education, with an expected graduation in spring 2013. During her academic career she has achieved many honors including scholarships from the Buffalo Urban League, American Baptist Women, the Delaware Avenue Baptist Church Scholars (2008-present) Buffalo, NY, and the first Dr. Jeffrey J. Wallace Sr. Leadership and Excellence Scholarship in 2011.
Her campus involvement includes Black Horse Women’s Rugby, 2008-present (Dorena was president of the team for three years and they were New York State Division Champions 2011-2012); the SUNY Fredonia Teacher Education Club; coordinator of “Bring our Daughters and Sons to work Day, 2012; and while enrolled in the Advanced Leadership Development course she helped organize and plan the first annual “Campin’ for Hope Memorial.”
Having experienced so much on her diploma journey, Dorena is looking forward to her next expedition--student teaching in Australia for spring 2013. Reflecting on the changes she has faced: “I have traveled to other countries and experienced life in the shoes of others. I have learned to thoroughly respect other cultures unlike the ones I have grown accustomed to in my life. All of these different aspects have made me who I am today: a person who is hungry for knowledge and eager to start a new chapter in my life.”