They say luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, and Stephanie Johnson’s luck in finding her way back to Minnesota definitely couldn’t have been found if it weren’t for both of these things.
Johnson received her bachelor of arts degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She then continued on to get her masters at the Univerisity of Minnesota immediately after finishing her undergraduate degree.
“It was not a choice to wait,” Johnson said. So she seized the opportunity to continue her education.
Johnson wanted to continue her education, but she had to put this desire on the back burner for five years while her husband’s job developed.
She knew opportunities in English were rare, as there were few choices for graduate programs in English, so she had to move to get the education she desired. “I wanted a stronger program for a Ph.D,” Johnson said. “I also wanted to be in an area of the country that was similar to Minnesota.”
She found a school at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she continued to grab opportunities and push herself while pursuing her Ph.D. by choosing to teach full time. “It was an unusual decision,” Johnson said.
She then went for a postdoctorate which gave her a break from full time teaching. “This game me an opportunity to teach part time and still have time to study,” Johnson said. The program was for Ph.Ds who wanted to teach in a college of the church.
All the while, Johnson knew that she wanted to get back to the state she was raised in—Minnesota. Even so, she knew that getting back would be difficult. “You don’t choose where you go,” Johnson said. “You follow the job.”
I've moved around enough. I'm absolutely here to stay."
- Stephanie Johnson
There were only 12 jobs in the country for the position that Johnson desired, and there were approximately 400 applicants to these jobs.
Despite the odds, Johnson didn’t let the opportunity pass, and she applied for a teaching job at St. Scholastica. “I’ve angled to get back to Minnesota for a long time,” Johnson said. “I wanted to raise kids here.”
Johnson was ultimately offered the job and she, along with her husband and three kids, accepted the opportunity. She now is only two hours from where she grew up, and she said she is lucky to be that close to home.
“You don’t choose where you go. You follow the job.” - Stephanie Johnson
“I’m grateful to have a job,” Johnson said. “And St. Scholastica is a college of the church, which is what my career goal was.”
She also feels lucky to be working with the people at St. Scholastica. “People here are so committed to teaching and to the students,” Johnson said. “That’s not always the case elsewhere.”
Her hard work has paid off, and students in her class are enjoying having her as a teacher. Ashley Kurtz, junior, student in Johnson’s Introduction to Poetry class, confirms this. “I think she pushes us to talk and she likes to get everyone involved,” Kurtz said. “I enjoy the class.”
Kurtz went on about her admiration. “I’ve learned a lot in her class,” Kurtz said. “I don’t have to take any more English classes but if I did, I would definitely take her classes.”
In addition to teaching poetry, Johnson’s other teaching interests include nineteenth-and twentieth-century British literature, and literature by women, but her favorite class to teach is Literature by Women. She feels this is an important class that students can connect to their own lives.
In addition to teaching, Johnson enjoys writing and is currently working on writing a book for a book project called “Victorian Women’s Devotional Poetry.” “It’s a work in progress,” Johnson said.
As far as the future is concerned, Johnson plans on staying in Minnesota. “I’ve moved around enough,” Johnson said. “I’m absolutely here to stay.”