Meet Your Professor: Darien Johnson
Darien Johnson lectures on writing at the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s also a faculty member at West Los Angeles College and a teaching artist at the Geffen Playhouse in LA. Even the beginning of his teaching career was remarkable – he began as a teaching assistant at Brown University while pursuing his Master’s of Fine Arts!
With over 12 years of teaching under his belt, Johnson is more than ready to bring his expertise to the Campus degree program by teaching Introduction to College Success.
What Brought Johnson to Campus?
“The program sounded cutting-edge,”said Johnson. “I was impressed by their goal to offer students around the country the convenience of a world-class education at an affordable price.”
And, of course, his values aligned just right with the Campus mission.
“I’m very interested in access to education for everyone. New technology platforms like Campus are making it possible for more people to get access to high-quality education…live, online classes where you don’t have to worry about recordings…I haven’t heard of many people trying to do that.”
As one of the first professors to teach in the program, Johnson also shared that his appreciation for Campus has grown over time.
“I’m even more in love with Campus now because I have seen how much support and care the entire staff offers each student, whether it’s live, virtual office hours, tutoring help, or even personal matters. All of us are really dedicated to student success and everyone who goes through the program really responds to that. I’m looking forward to the next cohort!”
Johnson’s Teaching Journey
Johnson’s passion for increasing access comes from his first-hand struggle in the pursuit of education. He grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Minneapolis and attended public schools throughout his youth. He shared with Campus that getting through it all was no easy feat.
“I had to navigate [through] the disadvantages I experienced in the education system and the poverty I saw around me to go from a Big 10 school to eventually an Ivy League,” he said. “I understand many of the struggles that many low-income/first-generation students face when trying to pursue [an] education.”
Currently, Johnson teaches first- and second-year writing composition and public speaking courses at UCLA. His love for writing started right from childhood. At the beginning, it was just a way of expressing himself comfortably. Once he began to write for school newspapers, it opened up paths towards public speaking, singing, and even performing.
“I felt alive in a way that I hadn’t before. So, I decided to study media [as an] undergrad and performance in grad school to have more control and specificity in my expression.”
A true lover of the performing arts, it’s no surprise that Johnson is well-known by his students for the passion and energy he brings to the classroom every day. He enjoys listening to his students’ perspectives on various subjects because it helps him understand what motivates them and how they approach issues.
“I feel like I just learned habits from the teachers that I had in my life… My students benefit from them instilling that passion for teaching in me,” Johnson shared. “I love helping people who want to improve themselves and learn more. No matter what material I teach, it brings me an immense amount of joy to assist someone in making new connections that they hadn’t made before, then use those connections in a meaningful way somewhere else in their work or life.”
Another fun dynamic he adds to the classroom? Creative assignments! Johnson loves to find ways to make classwork more engaging and current, even incorporating music videos and photojournalism into projects.
Symbolism, Black History, and Politics
Given that writing is one of his many passions, it makes sense that one of his favorite classes in college includes a semiology class. He adored the process of studying signs and symbols, especially those in our everyday lives.
“Everything from the tree outside your window, to a professional wrestling match, to a rose, has layers of meaning. Semiotics gives you the theory behind those meanings. It is probably the class I use the most to this day. It has helped me analyze so many things in life.”
Outside of the classroom, Johnson has recently been pursuing his own personal studies in history – specifically unknown Black history.
“I’m studying the story of Alexandre Dumas [author of The Three Musketeers], Black senators during Reconstruction, and William Sheppard, a 19th century Black missionary who worked in Africa.”
And here’s a fun curve-ball: if he wasn’t teaching college, Johnson would be on his way to be U.S. Secretary of State.
“There’s a whole other career in foreign policy that I would have liked to have done. There’s still time!”
We wholeheartedly agree!
The Smart Way to Launch Your College Career
The accredited, Campus A.A. in Business Administration program helps students knock out the first two years of college and supports them as they prepare for life after graduation.
Want to attend classes led by mission-driven educators like Darien Johnson? Apply now to be part of the next trailblazing cohort of the Campus program today.
Questions About Campus?
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