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Why Gifts Matter: Scholarship Support Allows Kianna Johnson ’23 to Inspire Students’ Love for Learning

When Kianna Johnson was growing up, teachers played a major role in encouraging her to achieve her potential. Now, as she prepares to graduate from the NC State College of Education with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she hopes to inspire her future students in the same way.

“I​​f I can help one student feel confident, loved and supported enough just to get through school, I’m sold,” Johnson said. 

Johnson was raised in a single-parent household and, while her family was supportive, she faced financial obstacles to earning a college education. Receiving the Bob Davis Scholarship and Council on Multicultural Initiatives and Diversity (COMID) scholarship made a major difference. 

“Without the scholarships, I would not be a student here,” Johnson said. “It sets me up so I can focus on academics and I really have appreciated that over the past four years.”

For Johnson, an added benefit to receiving the Bob Davis Scholarship was being able to form a relationship with the donors, Bob Davis and Judy Morgan-Davis. 

“I always tell them, ‘You guys do this so I can do what I do with the children, so it’s amazing.’ I am forever grateful for it,” Johnson said. 

For the past two years, the children whom Johnson has worked with are elementary school students at Lincoln Heights Elementary. She engaged in a field experience at the school her junior year and completed her student teaching there this semester. 

“It is absolutely amazing,” Johnson said. “I’m making the best relationships with these little kids and their parents.”

Lincoln Heights Elementary has become a second home for Johnson. 

“The school is where my heart is,” Johnson said. “We just connect. It is super important to have that support in this profession.”

After graduation, Johnson is looking forward to stepping into her own elementary school classroom and instilling in her students a passion for learning. 

“[Elementary education] is just so foundational and it’s so important,” Johnson said. “It can set the precedent for many things, like whether or not they fall in love with being at school, and that’s the most important thing.”