Dwayne JohnsonBack to Excellence
Dwayne Johnson is counting down the days to spring commencement. But he’s not just eager to walk across the stage, he’s mostly excited to begin the next phase of his life as an educator.
Johnson is a two-term president of the N.C. A&T’s Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) and the voice for the graduate students on campus.
“I am such a champion for the graduate student population. I truly understand what the needs are and work to make it a reality,” he said.
Johnson and members of GSAC gained strides last year, when they became the first HBCU to become voting members in The National Association of Graduate and Professional Students. At the organization’s 27th annual conference Johnson and GSAC members accepted seats to two national and three regional offices.
According to Johnson, the GSAC has helped increase awareness of the true concept of interdisciplinary research among graduate students..
“We realized that to be truly interdisciplinary, we had to expand how we thought of research. So if we wanted to create a medical device, it was necessary to include students from the engineering, business and sociology majors, to really come up with a product that people needed, that could be built and that could be marketed,” he said.
Johnson will graduate in May with a master’s degree in adult education. He plans to teach at the community college level and has aspirations of earning a Ph.D. and eventually becoming a leader of a college or university.
Johnson will be an Aggie twice over. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1996 from A&T and had a successful career in construction management. Now married with two children, the Charlotte-native, said he is proud of his time spent in Washington, D.C. working on high-level projects.
“I worked on the renovation of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the construction of the new IRS building,” he said. The Eisenhower building houses the offices of the Vice President, First Lady and Secretary of the State. Johnson also worked on a spending project at the General Services Administration.
“During this time of my career, it was such a feeling of accomplishment. I tell everyone that I went from making $25,000 to well into a six-figure salary. I have traveled to Amsterdam, Norway, Mexico, Canada and all over the country working and managing teams and expanding my knowledge in the field,” he added.
But Johnson credits his success to the foundation he earned during his first stint at A&T.
“I truly believe that A&T prepared me for all of this. It taught me how to think and it helped me manage both my (staff) and my projects,” he said.
Johnson said his engineering curriculum made him “industry-ready.”
“When I left A&T I was ready. I have never looked for a job; people have always come looking for me.”
When the federal government furloughed more than 35,000 jobs in 2009-10, Johnson said he was left trying to figure out his next steps.
Johnson remembers the Adult Education Program Coordinator contacting him on Facebook and encouraging him to consider enrolling. “It was as if a light bulb went off,” he said.
The rest was history. Johnson moved back to Greensboro and he enrolled in the program.
“She helped me understand the value of continuing my education. The industry is global now and you can’t compete with just having a bachelor’s degree.
“You have to be a master in your field. You have to own it,” he said.