Penn Student Benefitted From a Helping Hand and Now He Wants to Pay Back

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Media Contact:Jeanne Leong | | 215-573-8151November 7, 2012

Jeffrey Johnson has been fortunate to receive many educational opportunities, starting in elementary school and through high school and college. Now, he’s working to help give other young children a chance to learn as he did, inside and outside the classroom.

The Atlanta native, a senior in the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a concentration in global studies and business policy, spent the summer working at Goldman Sachs in New York. But, he’s decided he won’t be pursuing a corporate job when he graduates in May. He plans to use his business skills to help make improvements in education.

“Working at a corporation made it clear to me areas [in which] I want to have an impact. I’m very thankful for the things that I have, but I think Teach for America is one of the things I will go for.”

Johnson has applied to join Teach For America for its two-year program to teach children in urban or rural communities. 

While at Penn, Johnson has worked in St. Petersburg, Russia as a research assistant in Wharton’s Center for Business Ethics Research.

He’s acted and sung as part of The Pennsylvania Players theater group, mentored students through the LGBT Center, been a member of the Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club and volunteered for the Netter Center’s Community School Student Partnerships, which provides academic and cultural enrichment to West Philadelphia families and children.

Johnson’s road to Penn started long before college, when he was accepted into Atlanta’s private Paideia School, where he excelled. He had the opportunity to play golf, and he met people who inspired him to pursue higher education. At the suggestion of a friend’s mother, Johnson visited Penn. After he was accepted, his only concern was how to pay for college. Thanks to Penn’s no-loan policy, Johnson was able to attend his top choice.

“If I had [to incur] a $200,000 debt to come to Penn, I wouldn’t have come here,” Johnson says.

Through his Penn education, he’s learned about the business world and he’s had the chance to help the surrounding community. He says he’s grateful for all the programs at Penn that have prepared him for life after college. Now he’ll be able to pursue his interests in doing public service and helping other young people improve their lives.

“I look at education as the hub of a community,” Johnson says. “It gives people the skills they need to be active members within their community. Individuals, parents -- they all have to come to that hub to raise their children, our children.”

When Johnson graduates, he says he’ll be well prepared work in education, thanks to his four years at Penn.

“Now I can give back into the communities that have given so much to me for me to be here at Penn.”