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Mom finds success in WSSU’s healthcare management program

Courtney Johnson stands with her daughters near the archway on campus.
Recent WSSU graduate Courtney Johnson stands with her daughters Carissa, 9, and Nakari, 6. 

Courtney Johnson '18 had two big motivations for completing her degree: her young daughters.

Johnson achieved her goal this month, 10 years after first enrolling at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), earning a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management with honors.

Johnson withdrew from WSSU after just one semester in 2008 to become a mother.

In 2016, after taking a few courses at Forsyth Technical Community College, Johnson, a mother of two daughters – Carissa and Nakari – returned to WSSU as a full-time student.

“My daughters were my biggest motivation for getting back to school,” she says.

As a student, Johnson juggled full-time employment – working third shift – along with her responsibilities as a mother. She says the support she received from faculty, staff and students at WSSU helped her succeed.

MORE: Rankings show WSSU’s commitment to placing graduates in high-paying jobs

“The environment at WSSU was phenomenal. I loved interacting with other students,” she says. “And the Healthcare Management program was so inspirational to me. They never made me feel unwelcome.”

She says her boyfriend, Reggie Roberts, was “my backbone” and crucial to her success. 

Johnson, a native of Rocky Mount and graduate of Rocky Mount High School, also received support from The Matthew and Anna Reilly Cullinan Emergency Grant Fund, which was established in January. The grant, administered through the Provost's Office, paid for after-school childcare expenses, allowing Johnson to complete a semester-long internship.

While at WSSU, Johnson was president of the Public Health Society and a member of two student organizations that support non-traditional students: Mommie’s in College and the Non-traditional Adult Student Organization. She also has volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader since 2017.

Johnson was recognized for her hard work, receiving the Healthcare Management Departmental Award at the School of Health Sciences Pinning and Awards Ceremony on Dec. 14.

“Courtney thrived here at WSSU, showing leadership, integrity and dedication. Her peers regularly sought her guidance,” said Montrale Boykin, chair of the Healthcare Management program. 

In January, Johnson will begin working full time at Advance Home Care, where she completed an internship during the fall semester. Long-term, she plans to pursue a master’s in public health.

For mothers who are returning to school, Johnson says time management is everything.

“You have to give yourself some time to just be yourself,” she says.

WSSU's School of Health Sciences, an ethnically diverse school that embraces health equity in education, research and service. For more information, please visit the SOHS website.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

Courtney Johnson holds up her award

Montrale Boykin, chair of the Healthcare Management program (left), and School of Health Sciences Dean Peggy Valentine present Courtney Johnson with an award during the Pinning and Awards Ceremony on Dec. 14. 

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