I am ready to flourish, thanks to my mom and teacher

Dominique Johnson being presented with her certificate by Arche Taylor of Wells Fargo (Travis Lee/MSR News)

Dominique Johnson is a Cecil E. Newman Scholarship recipient. Below is her scholarship-winning essay.

I am a biracial, only child, who was raised by a single mother. Growing up, like many other families, my small family had financial hardships. My mom had me at a young age and due to that her academic career came to a halt. She did not go to college. To make ends meet, my mom worked multiple jobs and many hours. Twelve years later my mom went back to school. I was in fifth grade. She had to relearn material while raising a daughter, having a job, and keeping up with the mortgage.

No one ever really pushed college on me when I was younger. I just knew. Now that I look back on it, I see what sparked the idea of me going to college. This is because I witnessed the struggle my mom went through with having to start from scratch.

After some time of watching her balance life, work, and academics, it all clicked. She would not be going through all of these events if it did not mean something, if it wasn’t going to be beneficial in some way. I figured she was going through all of this to get where she wants to be and have her life turn out the way she had always hoped. That is when I knew I wanted to go to college.

I saw the obstacles my mom faced as she went to college that had been postponed. College is a struggle in itself going right after high school. By watching my mom juggle many priorities, I knew I could take on the challenge, as well.

For five and a half years, my mom and I were going to school at the same time. At night we would come home and create a space that was motivating and where we were ready to complete what we needed to.

At times I would help her with her quizzes, and others she would help me with my English assignments. This learning atmosphere helped me build a foundation that would prepare me for high school, and one that I hope to take with me to college.

When my mom and I were going to school, I was in middle school. During middle school I was interviewed and accepted in the AVID program. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. Through this program I met my first AVID teacher. She lead me down my own path to success and helped me lay the groundwork to a successful four years in high school. I continued AVID all throughout high school. It was here that I met the most influential teacher in my education.

Ms. Mousel has been my AVID teacher all four years. She has been there for my lowlights and my highlights of high school. She has done anything and everything for her first round of AVID students. Ms. Mousel has created a family-like environment, offering support through home struggles and academic struggles. She is one of the most selfless people I know. She truly is an “AVID mom.” She puts me and my classmates above herself, and pushed us when she knew we could achieve our hopes and dreams after high school.

My mom and my “AVID mom” have led me down a path to succeed in college, by helping me realize my academic potential. With their help I have excelled in high school, with a 3.3 GPA, and I am prepared to do the same at Winona State University this fall.

For a recap/photos from the 2017 Graduation Celebration, go here.