Living Life to the Fullest

Eriq Johnson’19 used classroom, extracurricular, and off campus opportunities to live life to the fullest.

Class Year: 2019
Business Economics
South Side, Chicago, IL

How did you hear about Beloit? What made you excited to come here?
I went to a high school called Urban Prep, which is a college driven school. I loved my college counselor she was phenomenal and we were searching through the common app and came across Beloit. I did an overnight visit with Robert Robinson’18. I loved the visit, and got to meet a lot of great people. I thought Beloit was a good environment. During that visit I also met Brian Morello and Smiddy. What made me excited to come here was that mentoring is a super big deal. Once I got a scholarship package, and did the overnight, I was sold on Beloit.

What kind of activities are you involved with on campus?
I’m the Vice President of Black Students United (BSU). Just seeing the growth of the African American community on campus, and feeling like I had a role bringing them together, is something that is really important to me. It was a very active year with high attendance at meetings and events. We also take a lot of pride in Black Gala.

After BSU, and secondly, I’ve been very active in the The Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education at Beloit (CELEB). I’ve worked closely with Director Brian Morello, and it really has encouraged me to start my own videography and media company. I’m the official videographer for the Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusiveness (OADI). I’ve videoed all the #GetWoke events started by Dr. Nicole Truesdale. I’m also the official videographer/editor for the Collective. It’s one of my more fun campus jobs. Working with people who just want to create, being able to provide feedback. And finally I’m a manager for the women’s basketball team.

What off-campus opportunities have you enjoyed?
I do so much off campus. One of the biggest things was just being able to work with the local community on visual projects. Video and video editing, being able to shoot different events and have locals contacting me through social media and CELEB. It’s not even really an opportunity, it’s an honor to be able to be a part of something that means so much to them, and that I can make that much more significant.

I’ve had an internship with Northwestern Mutual. That sort of came out of the blue. They contacted me and asked if I wanted to be a part of their organization And I’ve been a part of that for the last three months. Being able to participate in the Freedom March and being a major speaker Junior year meant a lot to me to be able to see the local community and the college community come together to support each other.

What has been your favorite class so far?
Hands down the dance class I’m taking. I’ve never been a part of anything at Beloit that implemented black culture in such an authentic and genuine way. Jessica Pretty’s hip hop class really embodies the values of about every single part of black culture. Seeing her embody that within a diverse group of students is like nothing I’ve ever seen at Beloit. Not to say Beloit College classes aren’t phenomenal, coming from black culture seeing how Beloit has tried to include black culture has been the closest thing that has brought me back to home. It’s almost like a breath of fresh air. And just having something where students can come and experience the real thing. Most definitely this class.

Video editing class with Aaron Gurlly also was great. I’m such a creative person.

Business econ classes have given me the tools to run my own company and my own experience. Brian Morello’s entrepreneurship class gave me a lot of those skills.

Dr. Sonja Johnson, Afro Caribbean course on Cuba and the African Diaspora. That’s one of the professors I will say that has mainly impacted my life as far as being an adult and a student and finding that balance of life and college and life and academics. Whenever I think of professor mentorship I think of her. She’s pushed me in ways beyond just the course load that has helped me keep up across the board. She wants to pick your brain and see how you think and challenge that and that’s the definition of what a true professor should be. And there are a lot of professors like that at Beloit, but she’s the one that did that for me.

What has been your most unexpected Beloit experience?
Just joining weird and different clubs that I never saw myself joining. I’m in a Super Smash Bros. club. I did not see myself doing that. I’m in a bunch of different clubs.

When I shot the mannequin challenge with BSU. That was the most unexpected experience. We had all kinds of people want to be a part of it. The unexpected part was seeing how many people wanted to be a part of one of my out of the blue ideas. All that support was really unexpected for me.

What’s been your biggest academic challenge?
Easily, just adapting – just adapting to my major.

Where is your favorite space on campus?
My favorite space was Blaisdell lounge. When I first came to Beloit I lived off campus but I would walk on campus and go to Blaisdell lounge just to play pool for hours. I’d do my homework there, and I’d go there just to have some peace and it was my getaway spot. My place of comfort and peace.

When it’s warm I love the poetry garden.

Where are you and your friends on Saturday night?
If we’re not in one of our rooms, now it’s usually downtown at bars now that we’re adults. Haven’s Lounge has also always been our main spot all four years. When we all want to get together that’s where we go.

What would your advice be to future Beloiters?
Try everything. Never stop yourself from trying something because it seems out of the normative. Try dance and art. Get the full experience. You never know what will stick.

How do you think Beloit has prepared you?
The people. You get a taste of everything here. Emotionally stable and unstable, real and fake. You have to realize people come from different places and mindsets are attached with those places and already set. Not everyone is going to see things the way you do. You have to balance that and be ok with that. Knowing yourself as an individual and that’s how Beloit has prepared me — the preparedness going into the real world. There isn’t anything I’m not prepared for. I’ve dealt with so many different personalities here, I’m ready for the next.

What’s next for you?
No idea. I’m going strong with Northwestern Mutual right now. I feel like my path is going to be much more creative. I don’t know yet. I’m just going to live my life to the fullness.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Coming from a high school located on the south side of Chicago, there are many things that you have to worry about outside of school work. Especially when your high school is located in a rough area. Chicago has a base of gang activity, drugs and violence. There’s a lot of stuff that you have to worry about outside of the academic side of being a high school student from the city. This is a challenge that can sometimes get in the way of focusing solely on being a student – sitting in the middle of class wondering about what routes you will take home to avoid certain areas. So, once I got to college, the most difficult task was keeping up with the the workflow.

April 01, 2019

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