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SVA Voices • Christine Johnson:
As a part of our mission supporting student veterans in their transition into higher education and civilian life, Student Veterans of America (SVA) shares their success stories through SVA Voices. Through storytelling, we are able to highlight student veteran success, and inspire the next generation of student veterans.
When it comes to being an advocate for lifelong learning, Air Force veteran Christine Johnson is one of the strongest. To name a few of her academic accomplishments, she has earned her A.S. in Political Science with a minor in International Studies, B.A. in Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, and her M.A. in Political Science and Foreign Affairs. Christine exemplifies academics at its pinnacle and encourages others to put forth the academic commitment. Christine says, "Never stop learning on the job and aspire to enter into many new classrooms--maybe someday stand at the blackboard (or LED Screen!)."
Christine's commitment to academics doesn't hinder her from enjoying life and having fun. One way she does this is through dancing. "I learned how to dance Salsa while waiting to respond to level one traumas brought in by dust-off on our UH-60 helopad. Dressed in full uniform, gear and boots, with a little battery powered boombox, while just outside were serene oil fires in the distance. Iraqi sunsets are quite the unique experience, but to dance to them is just something else. You have to find beauty in every situation, right? I got home and couldn't dance in heels at all--missed my combat boots on that dance floor!"
While in school, Christine advises student veterans to take advantage of organizations like SVA. She believes that the professional skills developed through involvement with SVA and other member-driven groups remain relevant to life after college. She says, "Service-oriented groups like SVA assist the student with professional growth and career advancement, while naturally building comradery and developing a comfortable setting for veterans to learn in."
It is important to be knowledgeable of career advancing opportunities while in school, which she says is made easier through SVA and other student organizations. Joining these groups provides you with a community of people sharing similar interests. The announcements, employment events, and job/internship posts made through various organizations is what ultimately led Christine to her present position.
Christine Johnson along with other VIP Fellows and then Secretary of State, John Kerry.
Currently, Christine works as a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, after completing the Veterans Innovation Partnership (VIP) Fellowship. VIP is a one year fellowship in Washington D.C. with the U.S. Department of State that focuses on supporting veterans' education, fellowship, and employment.
If you are unsure about what to do following graduation, Christine recommends researching fellowships available to veterans. "I didn't feel ready to enter a new career field directly out of my graduate program, but with the help of Veterans Affairs, I found out about government fellowships available to veterans, which specifically assist in preparation for careers in Foreign Affairs and much more. That is when I applied to the VIP Fellowship at the State Department and really changed the course of my life for the better."