JaDa Johnson ’21 found the right community at CMC, and study abroad solidified her career aspirations
JaDa Johnson ’21 found her path to Claremont McKenna College after a chance encounter with a friendly CMCer on campus.
While still in high school, the Houston native was visiting the Claremont Colleges at the suggestion of her college counselor. “I was doing my own tour of the 5Cs and I got a little turned around,” Johnson recalled. That’s when she met then-CMC student Maya Love ’20.
Love helped her find her way, and the two ended up chatting. “She shared with me the opportunities she discovered here, and what she said resonated with me. I left the Claremont Colleges with a huge impression, specifically because of Maya. I went home and re-thought my application process,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who was an International Relations major, made the most out of her time at CMC, including two study abroad experiences.
While learning Arabic at CMC, her professor suggested that Johnson apply to study in an Arabic-speaking country. She chose Jordan and attended the School of International Training, where she explored her interest in clean water accessibility.
Issues around clean water policy and security led Johnson to Cuba next, which she describes as “an amazing experience and a cultural 180 from Jordan.” She lived with two CMC students and took courses at the University of Havana. While there, Johnson solidified her Spanish and conducted research in water resource management.
Her semesters abroad helped Johnson cement her career aspirations of working in international development. But they also provided “growth and learning,” she said. “Living outside the U.S. gave me the perspective of seeing how others view the U.S., and a chance to think about the role I play in the world and what that means.”
Back on campus, Johnson took on a leadership role with the Black Student Association. “I like to think of the BSA as my family on campus.” As president of BSA, Johnson said her goal was to “help Black-identifying students enjoy their experience at CMC. Sometimes that meant listening to how their classes were going, or planning a trip off-campus to go roller skating. Also, BSA serves as a group to help students deal with the climate of different communities, and find a space to talk about that.”
In addition, Johnson was vice president of the International Relations Society, which she said “helps IR majors at CMC, especially first-years, find community.”
To add to her list of stellar accomplishments, Johnson was the student-elected speaker at CMC’s 2021 graduation ceremony. “Receiving a degree from CMC is a privilege in its own right, so I hope that we’ll all go forth and use this privilege as a means to help others in some shape or form,” she said.
Major: International Relations
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Student-elected speaker, Class of 2021
President, Black Students Association
Co-President, Student Philanthropy Council
Vice President, International Relations Society
Student Manager, Claremont McKenna Phonenite
Success Consultant, Dean of Students Office
Study Abroad (Jordan and Cuba)