Tri-C’s evening courses allowed Jameelah Johnson to pursue her passion for helping people
Jameelah Johnson’s calendar is full.
During the day, the 48-year-old works full time at Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. She also runs her own insurance and financial services company. On top of that, she’s the executive director of Multi-Generational Youth Outreach, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit she founded in 2013 that works to alleviate poverty among homeless and neglected kids and young adults ages 12 to 21. She even manages to work out four days a week.
But that wasn’t enough for Johnson, who recently added evening classes at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus to her itinerary. She will graduate this spring with an associate degree in human services.
“Don’t ask me how I do it, but I do it,” said the mother of two grown children. “I have support from my siblings, my mom is still alive, my children, cousins — I have a very big family, and we’re very family-oriented.”
With her day job in Lorain, Tri-C’s evening track proved convenient. Johnson also availed herself of internships, including one at Oriana House, whose locations throughout Ohio provide community corrections programs, substance abuse treatment and mental health services.
“That taught me so many things,” she said. “It was an amazing experience. I never thought I would be pulled to this path.”
Johnson previously worked in banking and real estate, but chasing a good income left her passion for helping people unfulfilled.
“After 20-something years in finance, I chose a different career path,” she said. “At the end of the day now, I can say I have helped someone to remain sober and helped to identify tools and resources and strategies to look at it from a different perspective.”
A class with Joseph Cummins, assistant professor in the Human Services program, helped her better understand her own late father’s heroin addiction.
“I always thought it was something that a person can just get over on their own, that it was a mind-over-matter thing,” said Johnson. “But after taking that class and completing that program — and now, working in the field — it’s a disease. I have a whole different perspective on it now.”
Part of the first generation in her family to attend college, Johnson wishes younger inner-city students knew more about the opportunities, low cost of tuition and “amazing staff” at Tri-C.
“Paint that picture freshman year or in junior high school,” she said. “That’s when I find I’m meeting with kids in the community that are homeless, that age out of the foster system. They need to know about their educational options sooner than their senior year.”
Johnson’s next step will be to attend either Ursuline College for a master’s in social work or John Carroll University for a master's in clinical counseling. Within three to five years, she hopes to get her Ph.D.
“In 10 years,” she said, “I want to be fully, 100% working for my own company.”
Story written by Michael von Glahn.
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of its newest graduates during commencement, June 9 at Byers Field at Robert M. Boulton Stadium in Parma. Check our News and Events page leading up to the event as we highlight members of the Class of 2021.
June 01, 2021
Erik Cassano, 216-987-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org