PLA scholar hopes to influence local, national policy
Thinking globally is a big part of Ebonee Johnson’s life.
But acting locally is just as important.
From the mission trip she took to the Dominican Republic at the age of 16, to the semester she spent studying abroad at the Institut Catholique de Paris last year, Johnson takes seriously her role of acquainting herself with the world.
"Being able to experience different cultures and see things from the perspectives of different societies is a big part of why I love international studies"The 20-year-old Detroit native and Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy (PLA) scholar is majoring in international studies, and hopes her global experiences will inform her future career in international affairs, foreign policy or national security.
“One of my biggest dreams would be to be the one sitting in the situation room, advising the president,” said Johnson, a junior. “I would love to be a policy analyst or a political adviser.”
In the meantime, Johnson is learning a lot about how government and policy-making work on smaller levels — in the University’s Undergraduate Student Senate (USG) and Student Budget Committee.
Johnson has served for three years in USG, most recently as the organization’s City, State and National Liaison. For this role, Johnson’s responsibilities include staying up to date on what’s happening at Bowling Green City Council and monitoring state legislation, all in the interest of keeping students aware of issues that could affect them.
Other issues Johnson has helped tackle with USG have included the academic honesty policy, admissions and retention, and gender-neutral housing and lavatories.
Having served as both treasurer for USG and as a committee chair for the Student Budget Committee, Johnson has also gained experience in how governing bodies manage and allocate money, she said.
In addition to those responsibilities, Johnson is also president of the International Relations Organization, which participates in the annual American Model U.N. conference.
After she graduates from BGSU, Johnson will pursue a master’s degree related to international or security policy, she said.
“I would really like to attend graduate school in Washington D.C., not only because it seems like a logical place to go to work in this field, but also because it has some excellent schools and programs,” she said.
Beyond attending graduate school, Johnson said she would also like to continue visiting new places as often as possible.
“Being able to experience different cultures and see things from the perspectives of different societies is a big part of why I love international studies,” she said.
Regardless of where Johnson ends up, she knows the skills she has acquired through the President’s Leadership Academy will help her every step of the way, she said.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned through PLA is how to be a better servant leader,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today or participating in the organizations I am in without the PLA program. It’s helped me discover my passions but also to share my passions and help others.
“Through PLA, I have felt so encouraged to do more and be more in this world.”
The Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy Program (PLA), a four-year leadership development program, is steeped in the theory of servant-leadership, a practical philosophy that supports people who choose to serve first, and then to lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. The PLA enrolls approximately 15-30 new students annually, resulting in a total of 100-120 students matriculating per year. Awardees receive a renewable scholarship up to the cost of in-state instructional (tuition) and general fees. Please visit bgsu.edu/give to make a gift to this program.