Graduate Student Spotlight: Johnathan Atkinson

Johnathan Atkinson
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Where are you working right now?

I am a graduate assistant at Montserrat College of Art in the Department of Campus Life. I supervise four resident assistants, and serve as a conduct officer. Alongside being the advisor to the student government known as Montserrat Student Voice.

What do you love about working there?

The student population is absolutely the best part of my job working at Montserrat, the opportunity that I have to learn from my students and realizing that they have as much to offer me as I do them.  Also working at a small institution reminds me of my alma mater and why that’s important is as small colleges we get to know our students one-on-one in that connection I help students.

When you aren’t working, how do you spend your free time?

My free time is spent by going to the movie theaters, catching up on Netflix, enjoying a really good NBA game and hanging out with friends.

What is your favorite grad school class and why?

I would have to say my favorite class so far is student development theory because my goal is to help students reach their full potential and be the best part of themselves.  The theories give me a framework for how students may identify and development gives me an opportunity to help students move forward.

Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?

I was one of the most involved students in my undergraduate institution, (Mitchell College) I had the unique opportunity to work in just about every department and find my passion in student affairs work. But I would have to say the two people that inspired me to go to grad school and to really pursue a career would have to be my supervisors and mentors Jamia Danzy and Isaac Newsome. They saw potential in me, as resident assistant they both helped me give me direction.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your career (so far)?

Adversity defines one’s character it all depends on how we choose to overcome the hard times.

 

What is on your Higher Ed bucket list?

My career goals are to reform the education process in our country, for education to focus more on individual’s needs so that each person can learn in a student-centered environment which strengthens and develops students to reach their highest potential. I think that if I were the president of a college, I would be able to make strides on a smaller scale as a model for what would work in higher education in our country. There are individual learning styles and not everyone learns the same way, so if we have a system in which each student can access their learning via their own style, they will be more successful in reaching their goals. This would escalate us as a society, to reach and find new abilities that we haven’t yet attained. I think as a student with a diagnosed learning difference, I have had to overcome a lot of adversity with how to learn and what works best for me. I want to see students succeed, to achieve the most they can possibly achieve, because college is the most critical time to develop a sense of self, and it can easily make or break an individual. So if students are shown how utilize all the resources available, as I have, they will be more successful in college and beyond.

 

What advice would you offer to undergraduate seniors who are starting to search for grad programs?

My advice to undergraduate seniors pursuing is to look for grad school early on in your senior year so you have options. Also look for programs with fellowships and assistantships so you can get the opportunity to put theory into practice.

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