DeShauna Johnson is interested in comedy. When asked if she’d ever participated in an improv show or a comedy open mic, the recent Thomas Jefferson High School graduate deadpanned, “I am the mic. And I improvise every day of my life.” 

That spirit of improvisation has helped Johnson continually reimagine and revise her vision for the future. Before entering AIM’s Upward Bound program, she didn’t know as much about the higher education landscape as she does now. She might have ended up attending whatever school offered her the best scholarships and financial-aid package. But with AIM’s help, she mastered the college application process: researching schools, applying for financial aid and scholarships, and writing scholarship essays. She also went on multiple college trips with AIM, including a campus visit to the University of Central Florida, which helped her get a sense of university life and solidify what she wants from an institution. 

After much soul-searching and option-weighing, Johnson recently accepted an offer from Atlanta’s Spelman College, one of the first historically black liberal arts colleges for women in the United States. 

Though her favorite subject is math, Johnson plans to major in biology and pursue a pre-med course of study.  

“I just like science, and I want to go to medical school,” she said.

AIM Upward Bound’s emphasis on science and technology helped her crystallize her interest in STEM, and even inspired her to develop coding skills that may come in handy in her future. (Upward Bound is a federal TRIO program that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in their precollege performance. AIM coordinates Upward Bound programs at five area high schools.) 

In addition to the focused academic instruction and college application assistance provided by the AIM Upward Bound program, Johnson especially appreciated the emotional support and nonjudgmental listening she received.

“They always had our back no matter what,” she said. “I relied on them for practically everything.” 

All of this crucial support helped her succeed through adversity and ultimately gain admittance to her dream school. 

 “Visiting a lot of colleges helped us figure out what we wanted. I didn’t know what historically black colleges were, and then I started researching them, and now I’m going to the number one!” 

On behalf of everyone at AIM, congratulations DeShauna Johnson on all your hard work and success. We wish you the best of luck!