Maya Johns dreams of opening a youth center for troubled teens. With her Tidewater. Community College degree, she is one step closer to making that dream come true.
Johns, 30, will graduate with her Associate of Applied Science in Human Services during TCC’s 71st Commencement Exercises to be held virtually on Dec. 21.
The Chesapeake native’s journey to a college degree included a few stops and starts. It wasn’t until her best friend enrolled in classes alongside her that the dream of a college degree began to take shape.
“I chose human services to help people,” Johns said. “In a world full of struggle and strife, a straight path is something we all long for. What better way to give back than to truly walk with someone on this journey, providing help and hope.”
Johns’ human services degree included internship hours at Teens with a Purpose, a youth organization empowering young people to use their voices, creativity and actions to affect personal growth, transform lives and impact communities.
“In my background, I saw a lot of things happen that held my friends back,” she said. “I want to show them and others that there are opportunities out there. You don’t have to be a product of your environment.”
A single mom of two children, Johns recalls the struggle of juggling life, work and school.
“There were a few times when my children had to come to class with me and plenty of long nights,” she said. “We’d all be around the kitchen table doing homework and I’d feel so tired, but my kids looked at me like I was their superhero!”
Johns chose TCC for its Human Services program and for the smaller classes. “TCC has so much to offer, and the faculty and staff are rooting for you,” she said. “Even with my online classes, I felt a real connection to my TCC community.”
Johns credits professor Shelby Johnson for teaching real-world concepts. “Everything was a teaching moment with Professor Johnson. It wasn’t just textbook learning. She talked about what to expect in the field and the rewards that come from helping people.”
Johns plans to continue at Old Dominion University for her bachelor’s in human services.
Graduation week will include another milestone for Johns. She and her partner, Charles, will welcome a third baby next week.
“I want my kids to know that you never give up,” Johns said. “Be resilient and show strength, and take every opportunity that comes your way.”