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Be the Difference

College of Education Award Recipients

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA OF THE YEAR AWARD

JohnsonDr. Adanna J. Johnson, Grad ’01, ’05
Takoma Park, Md.

As the associate vice president for student equity and inclusion at Georgetown University, Adanna works as a servant-leader to break down barriers. Although the work is difficult, when Adanna is able to open doors to higher education to people who have historically been denied access or give voice to someone who has previously been unheard, she knows she is doing the work she has been called to do. Adanna is passionate about helping people.

She grew up in a family and community that placed a high value on education, faith and serving the community. Marquette provided the opportunity for Adanna to fulfill these values, earning an excellent education while taking her classroom knowledge and applying it to community-based work at her home church and in the broader community.

Adanna’s experience with Jesuit education began at Marquette and has continued throughout her time at Loyola University Maryland and now at Georgetown University. As a professor, she was able to inspire her students with the Jesuit values of excellence, faith, leadership and service. Now in her role as an administrator, Adanna puts these core Jesuit values into practice on a daily basis, using her faith as a foundation to excel, lead and serve with integrity.

When she was at Marquette, Adanna discovered a love for improvisational comedy but didn’t have the time to try it. She set a personal goal of trying improv and performing onstage before her 40th birthday, and she did it! In addition to improv, Adanna has been dabbling in stand-up comedy – she jokes that “all the years of standing up teaching in front of undergraduate and graduate students gave me the nerve to be solo onstage telling jokes!”

Fun facts:

What is one of your favorite Marquette memories?
“My beloved father, John Oscar Johnson, Jr., worked in Facilities Services for nearly 14 years,” she says “When I would run into my father on campus, which oddly wasn't too often, he would express his pride in my pursuits and tell everyone I was his daughter. Less than a year after I graduated, my father passed away. The special times of seeing him on campus are among my favorite memories of that time in my life. “

Name someone (past or present) with whom you'd like to have dinner.
“Harriet Tubman. Since I was a little girl, I have remained in awe of her courage,” Adanna says.  “I often find myself thinking of her when burdened by a difficult work situation related to equity. I look upon her and the courage it took to place herself in harm’s way for others, and I am renewed.”