Shanay Johnson

While I have faced many challenges along the way, I hope my story encourages others to continue pressing on despite obstacles and to know that anything can be accomplished through determination.

When Shanay was 13 years old, her mother passed away from AIDS. Despite her inability to further her own education, Shanay’s mother instilled in her children the importance of higher education. Upon graduating high school in 2003, Shanay earned admission to Penn State, but was forced to leave in 2006 due to lack of financial resources. During her hiatus from school, Shanay gave birth to her daughter and eventually moved into a family shelter, due to unsafe and unstable living conditions. It was at this point Shanay felt she could no longer rely on her limited education skills, and applied to a program called “AchieveAbility.”  This gave her the opportunity to return to school and enroll at Drexel University. Shanay currently works as a program specialist at the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF), is an active participant in the Philadelphia AIDS walk and volunteers at her local church daycare. She hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and work in the public health arena of Philadelphia, providing care to the underserved and underinsured.

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