Phaedra Johnson ’20 says that being an inaugural Loyola Marymount University member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society, brings with it a duty to be an example of LMU’s mission and lifelong learning. She has taken that dictum to heart, though she was on that track long before her induction.
Johnson embodies the interdisciplinary education that is increasingly in demand and at which LMU excels. The Atlanta native is a Spanish major and is completing the pre-med concentration, two demanding courses of study that converged exquisitely in her first year when she volunteered with Lions for Venice Family Clinic and utilized her translating skills to help clients. She says she loved the clinic’s mission – turn no one away – and she interacted with all kinds of people. She says she wants to work with multiple generations and is looking at family medicine or specializing as an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Her intense interest in languages and cultures was ignited on a family trip to Central America when she met and learned about the Garifuna people and their language. She discovered in herself a passion to communicate. She’s taken Spanish classes every semester since middle school and is now fluent. Johnson even studied abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica where she tutored elementary schoolchildren.
That communicative urge also fuels Johnson’s desire to go into medicine. She has been active in MAPS, Minority Association of Pre-med Students, and has attended conferences at medical schools. She gives credit to LMU staff and faculty members for giving her advice and encouragement. Johnson now advises first-year students not to be afraid to reach out; she knows from experience that LMU has an extensive support system.
Johnson says she is honored that her hard work, commitment to social justice, and her service on and off campus, resulted in her being among LMU’s first nine inductees to Phi Beta Kappa. “It’s exciting that LMU has a PBK chapter,” she says, “only 10 percent of universities have one. It signifies a commitment to mission and pursuit of learning.”