The Crusader Newspaper Group

IUN’s Class of 2024: Continuing a legacy on your own path

Living in East Point, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, Jade Johnson was figuring out where she wanted to go to college.

She could’ve stayed down south but visited Indiana University Northwest — the same campus her father and grandmother graduated from. Johnson’s first impression was how small and quiet the campus was. It suited her — an admittedly quiet person by nature.

So, Johnson began her own IU Northwest journey. And although she began her journey as a third-generation student, she created her own legacy on the Northwest campus. Little did she know then all the opportunities this “small” campus had to offer.

“I looked up to both my father and grandmother, so to continue what they started is very meaningful to me,” Johnson said, “just to do that and continue the family legacy, and hopefully my kids come here.”

Johnson began at IU Northwest in 2018. She took an English class and always felt her work wasn’t good enough. Her papers always received a C, D or F — never a B or A.

Johnson failed that class and, after a year in school, decided to step away from college.

“College, it’s so different from high school,” she said. “The maturity level was not there, so I had to step away, get myself together and come back when I was ready. Surprisingly, the pandemic was when I was ready.”

Johnson came back to IU Northwest after one year off to pursue her criminal justice degree. And she didn’t just come back just to take classes, either. She became a force on campus.

Slowly, the quiet person became one of the campus’s most prominent student leaders. It began when Johnson was volunteering during Summer Bridge and met admissions counselor Antoine Hawkins.

Johnson said Hawkins saw the potential in her, always pushing her to do more. Johnson began as a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions. She kept moving up in the Black Student Union, as well — advised by Hawkins — and became the President.

Her leadership roles didn’t stop there, either. Johnson served as the Vice President of the Nu Lambda chapter for Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc., President of My Sister’s Keeper, a student life representative for SGA and a member of the Criminal Justice Association.

When asked if she saw herself moving into so many leadership roles, Johnson said, emphatically, “No.”

“I’m quite impressed with myself,” she said. “In high school, I wasn’t the type to volunteer for anything, leadership roles and stuff like that. I never tried to step forward like, ‘Oh, I can do that,’ but here we are.”

Something clicked in Johnson when she returned to campus and she opened up. She began substitute teaching in the Merrillville Community School Corporation and enjoyed how students often looked up to her as a role model.

After graduating with her criminal justice degree with a minor in forensics and criminal investigation, Johnson will continue her education by pursuing her master’s degree in education to become a licensed teacher.

With a bachelor’s in criminal justice and a master’s in education, Johnson’s plan is simple — to work in forensics full-time and teach classes focusing on criminal justice part-time.

“My senior year in high school, I had a forensic science class and it just sparked my interest,” Johnson said.

In the future, Johnson hopes to inspire future students to help them find their path, like she did after taking a class in high school.

Looking back, Johnson couldn’t be happier with her decision to follow in her father’s and grandmother’s footsteps.

But everyone’s path is unique. You just have to seek and take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, like Johnson did.

“IU Northwest gives a lot of opportunities,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s just a work-study or internship, you have professors who will actively push you. They want you to do better. Staff will push you because they want you to do better for yourself, putting you in situations that spotlight you. That’s why I’m here now.”

Recent News

Scroll to Top