For family, college in their blood

Jaslyn Johnson was awarded the PECO scholarship, which is given to students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. | Sash Schaeffer TTN
Jaslyn Johnson was awarded the PECO scholarship, which is given to students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. | Sash Schaeffer TTN

Before she was born, senior neuroscience major Jaslyn Johnson already had a close relationship with Temple – she thinks it’s practically in her family’s genes.

Her mother and father met while working at Temple University Hospital. Growing up on Allegheny Avenue, Johnson has always been just a few minutes from Main Campus. When her older sister, broadcast journalism major Jalene Johnson, became a Temple student in 2009, Jaslyn Johnson followed her lead and enrolled in 2010. She was shortly followed by her youngest sister, secondary education major Javon Johnson, in 2011.

Her younger brother, 17-year-old Joshua Johnson, attends Temple’s Math/Science Upward Bound Program, which aims to encourage and enable the academic skills of talented high school students interested in majoring in a math or science field in college.

Jaslyn Johnson said if her family isn’t “Temple Made,” she isn’t sure what is.

Tragedy struck the Johnson family this past fall when Jaslyn Johnson’s father suffered a debilitating accident and was no longer able to work. His position at the university hospital had allowed him to receive his tuition remission benefits for his daughters, but the injury forced him out of work and compromised that bonus.

Jaslyn Johnson said she and her sisters were faced with the possibility of putting their college careers on hold.

“My sisters and I didn’t think about [college] initially,” Jaslyn Johnson said. “It was more so we were in shock and in the moment, we were trying to just make sure that he was OK and that he would get better.”

By winter break, Jaslyn Johnson said her father was showing improvement in his recovery and was able to start physical therapy.

Jaslyn Johnson and her younger sister submitted their tuition remission forms to the university for their spring semester, but were informed that their father’s benefits no longer applied since he had exceeded his 30-day leave of absence. Jaslyn Johnson said the idea of taking out a student loan was troubling since graduating with debt was never part of her plan.

In what she called a lucky moment this year, Jaslyn Johnson was a recipient for the PECO scholarship, which is given to students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. After receiving the scholarship, Johnson said she didn’t need to worry about whether she would graduate on time.

“I would definitely say [the PECO scholarship] gave me a piece of mind and stability,” Jaslyn Johnson said. “This scholarship was right on time, I really needed this in order to graduate. It was just perfect.”

Jaslyn Johnson said the thought of her father being in the hospital during the Fall 2013 semester weighed heavily on her mind. Her father’s experience influenced her interest in medicine since she was young.

“Hearing stories about how my dad would [help someone recover] from going into shock or possibly dying, it inspired me to pursue medicine and to take an interest in healthcare,” Jaslyn Johnson said.

She said she’s happy to know now that her goals to follow in her father’s footsteps are still attainable. She’ll graduate in May, as she planned, thanks to the scholarship. For the family-oriented student, graduating on time means getting the opportunity to help support her family even sooner.

“I get to start working a year earlier, which means I get to start helping pay the bills and being there for everyone in my family,” Jaslyn Johnson said.

She said she has always held a close relationship with her family, but her father’s needs have given her and her siblings a united front.

“I think our relationship with one another keeps us strong as individuals,” her older sister Jalene Johnson said. “Our relationship sources as a support system that gets us through any trial we experience, such as my father’s accident.”

Jaslyn Johnson said she has a new appreciation for her opportunities during higher education, which she said she’s sure to be reminded of even after graduation.

“Career, here I come,” Jaslyn Johnson said.

Kate Reilly can be reached at kathryn.reilly@temple.edu.

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