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Professional Volunteer Spotlight on Eric Johnson

Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Eric Johnson! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!

Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.

I went to college to become a history teacher. It was something I had dreamed of since I was 13. Once I got into the education program at Augustana College and started getting some experience in the classroom, I had some second thoughts about my future as an educator but decided to stick with it. Eventually, I worked as a social studies teacher at Naperville North High School. While working there, I finally listened to my gut and realized teaching was not for me. I reconnected with Augustana College and through their career center, I discovered Educate. Radiate. Elevate. and decided to transition into marketing! I’m still very early in the transition but E.R.E. has been a great place to get experience.

What or who inspired you to pursue your major/career?

My majors were history and secondary education. I was inspired to pursue those after having an amazing World History and AP U.S. History teacher, Mr. Wendell. As great as he was, I realized teaching was not for me after graduating and have started transitioning into marketing. No one person lead me into marketing. It was more a result of the experiences I had when reconnecting with my college’s career center. I was looking at what other sort of careers my majors and experience would do well in and marketing caught my eye. I gave it a shot and haven’t looked back since.

What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?

I’ve always loved performing. I’d been singing in school choirs since 6th and decided to learn guitar during my junior year of high school. By the time my senior year had rolled around, I asked my guitar teacher if I should try out for the school talent show. He really encouraged me to go for it. So I did. With just a year of guitar under my belt, I passed the auditions and played a big, rock guitar solo at the school talent show. It was a huge hit of dopamine getting to hear the crowd go wild and have peers come up to me for the following weeks and say, “Eric, I had no idea you could play the guitar like that!”

What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?

A lot of what keeps me motivated is intrinsic motivation. I am blessed to be as driven as I am. I can’t really point to one thing or person that really motivates me aside from my inner drive. I never realized how lucky I was to be like this until I was talking with a fraternity brother back at college. He asked me what gets me up in the morning and makes me want to do what I do. I told him I just enjoy doing the best that I can and feel satisfaction from the work I do. He was very surprised and told me he really appreciated that answer. Everyone else he had asked usually said things like, they’re motivated by their significant other or their paycheck or something like that. I was unique in this regard. As I said, I feel very lucky to have this drive!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

If you are a teacher, family member, friend, or literally anyone who has supported me in any way throughout my life, thank you. I have been incredibly lucky and blessed to have had the life I have had so far. I could not be where I am without you. That might sound cheesy or lame, but it’s true. In particular, I’d like to thank my parents, my brother, my grandparents, and my ten closest friends. You know who you are!

Why did you choose to be a professional volunteer for Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?

I was looking for a way to carry my interest and knowledge in education into a new field. I found my way onto Handshake and was looking through jobs and internships. I saw Educate. Radiate. Elevate. and was interested as soon as I saw the name. Once I read about the organization and about the marketing internship, I applied very quickly. After interning at E.R.E. for a few months, I was offered the position of marketing team lead by Lindsey which is where I am today!

What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?

I really love Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s dedication to addressing the achievement gap. My student teaching experience at a more urban, lower-income school contrasted with my first real teaching job at a nice, upper-middle-class school highlighted the importance of leveling the educational playing field. This is especially true in a state like mine, Illinois, which had one of the most inequitable ways of funding schools in the entire country. E.R.E. is super passionate about helping those most affected by this gap and the way it has not given students a fair shake at school. They are doing the work that can really help improve the future of the youth and the country.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Most of my free time is spent either playing video games, playing guitar, or hanging out with friends. I’ve been a PC gamer since high school and have lots of fun playing with all my old high school friends. When I’m not doing that, I’m playing guitar, learning new songs, and trying out different genres. And on weekends, I’m hopefully spending time with my friends. Watching movies, playing board games, and chit-chatting are some of our most common past times, but we like getting to go bowling or perhaps mini-golfing if the weather is right.

Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?

I am an absolute sucker for the Disney theme parks. I had gone a few times with my family growing up and enjoyed it each and every time. When I was a freshman in college, I got the chance to head down to Disney World with three good friends of mine. Sure, the parks are great and will always be a lot of fun, but getting to experience it all without parents and being on our own was what really made the trip. The sense of independence at that age was great!

Listen to your gut. Others around you will give you advice and pointers. Be sure to listen to it, but at the end of the day you should listen to your gut. You need to do what is best for you. It can be tough to make that decision sometimes (at least for me it was) but you will thank yourself later.

Listen to your gut. Others around you will give you advice and pointers. Be sure to listen to it, but at the end of the day, you should listen to your gut. You need to do what is best for you. It can be tough to make that decision sometimes (at least for me it was) but you will thank yourself later.

Thanks, Eric! We Are So Lucky To Have You On The Team!

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