Thanks to Thompson scholarship, Janae Johnson says all of her ‘wildest dreams have come true’
Schmidthorst College of Business graduate has job lined up at Eaton Corp. in Cleveland
By Bob Cunningham ’18
Janae Johnson didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived at Bowling Green State University in Fall 2017. In fact, Johnson said she “didn't know anything about college, the business world or anything at all.”
A lot can change in four years.
Now, Johnson is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a double specialization in finance and business, analytics and intelligence from the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business.
She also has a job lined up with Eaton Corp.’s information technology as part of a rotational leadership program. For her first year, she will be a solution design analyst for Eaton’s Business Intelligence Center of Excellence Beechwood in Cleveland. Then, in her second year, she can do something completely different if she chooses to do so.
Johnson said the education system in her hometown of Euclid, Ohio, was failing, so she applied for and received a grant to attend Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland for free.
From there, her economics teacher, a BGSU alumna, suggested that Bowling Green would be a good fit for her personality, ambition and goals.
“I come from a low-income, single-parent household where nobody in my household went to college,” Johnson said. “It wasn't like I really had people who I could ask or like my school counselor. So that was definitely a challenging experience. Once I came here, I absolutely fell in love with the campus. It's only two hours away from my hometown — so it's still pretty close — but I still get that sense of independence. And BGSU has felt like home from the beginning.”
Johnson cites 12 scholarships, especially the Robert and Ellen Thompson Scholarship Program for Working Families, for enabling her to get involved with everything the University has to offer.
“I cannot say enough good things about that foundation and the people who work there, especially my advisor, Mary Kay Inkrott Hiser. The Thompson scholarship has provided me with much more than just financial support and help — it also has provided a lot of emotional support and it’s just been very personable.”
After Johnson’s first semester, she was still a little unsure about some things, almost out of money and homesick. Hiser listened to her problems and consoled her.
“She was like, ‘OK, so these are completely normal feelings and fears, but there are solutions to them,’” Johnson said. “She helped me find a job on campus. She connected me with other people from organizations that I was interested in so they could give me more information. Mary Kay has done so much, really. I know there are so many things that I'm not even thinking about right now, but the one thing I really love about my advisor is that she always gave me advice that was tailored to me. It was never what she would do. It was always, ‘let me get in the mindset of Janae and what do I think would be best for her in this situation.’”
Johnson said that the University has done a great job in preparing her for life after college.
“My professors were always willing to help me and answer my questions, and I like to say that my teachers here actually helped me to see my potential,” she said. “I've been very fortunate to have had an internship every single summer since my freshman year — with Quicken Loans, STERIS Corp. and Eaton Corp. all in Cleveland — and I also had a research internship with the dean of the Schmidthorst College of Business. So, yes, 100%, BGSU has prepared me. All the advice and opportunities I have had definitely contributed and was the ultimate result of me getting a job offer before the first day of my senior year even began.”
In addition to her internships, Johnson was active in organizations on campus as well, such as Undergraduate Student Government, Business District Learning Community, Student Ambassadors and the Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODI), and through it all she remained hard at work within the Thompson scholarship.
“I think my involvement increased my sophomore year because that's when I really started to be an ambassador and a peer mentor for the foundation,” she said. “We have this summer bridge program for incoming freshmen, and I served as a mentor for them. I had about 6-8 students that I was in charge of and helped acclimate them to life on campus.”
“Janae has excelled academically and as a student leader,” said Raymond Braun, dean of the Schmidthorst College of Business. “She is graduating with honors, served as a Schmidthorst College of Business Student Ambassador, and was the council organizer for the Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion. To recognize her outstanding achievements, Janae is the recipient of the 2021 Karl E. Vogt Outstanding Senior Award. We are proud of her achievements and wish her well as she begins her professional career.”
Johnson said she never got behind in her coursework due to the COVID-19 pandemic because, thanks to her Thompson scholarship, she had already learned that her professors were always available when she needed help.
“Despite all the different obstacles and adversity that I’ve gone through, I've been able to thrive at BGSU because of my professors, the Thompsons, the College of Business, Dean Braun and just by always holding myself to a higher standard and doing everything that I could do for myself,” she said. “In the beginning, I just wanted to get a degree and make my family proud and now I've been able to make my wildest dreams come true.
“I've been able to do so many different, incredible things. I was elected to serve as the executive member of the Student Ambassadors and I was the first council organizer for DACODI. I've actually been to the State House in Columbus with President Rogers to lobby for higher education. Then, when the quad was named in honor of the Thompsons, I gave a speech from the undergraduate students’ perspective, thanking them for all their generosity and their dedication to us. I also got to speak on behalf of the students during the University dedication for the Robert W. and Patricia A. Maurer Center.”
“This is what I mean by having my wildest dreams come true because I'm definitely walking away with more than just a degree; I'm walking away with the support system, knowing that I can accomplish any goal I set my mind to.”