Where Are They Now? Kenyora Johnson '10

March 18, 2015

Kenyora Johnson

Kenyora works as a Program Manager at Strong Women, Strong Girls!

What was your major at Simmons?

I majored in Public Health and minored in Africana Studies.

What's a typical day like at your job?

A typical day at Strong Women, Strong Girls, or SWSG, consists of fostering and sustaining connections with our community partners, meeting with our college mentors and coaching them to provide high quality mentoring for the core of our program -- elementary school girls.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Being able to coach college women to be their best selves and walk in their own truth. I love witnessing them empower their peers and inspire girls to do the same! I'm very close in age to many of the college women that I supervise. It’s always inspiring to see where they are in their own lives because I was just there. Besides, I oversee the Simmons College SWSG chapter -- so I feel that I’ve never truly left the “college scene” since graduation! 

How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?

I was familiar with the organization since SWSG has a chapter at Simmons, so I had an outsider’s perspective. I felt could provide positive social change for not only the Simmons chapter, but all chapters and the organization as a whole. I knew that I wanted to empower women and girls in some capacity. So with my outside knowledge, dream, and passion, I knew it was the right fit for me.

What made you want to get involved with a girl serving organization?

I was practically raised by all women in my family—my mom, aunt, and grandmother. I am a proud alumna of Girls Incorporated of Lynn. I'm part of the largest public service organization in the world that is run by and only for women, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. And I went to an all women's college!

To say the least, I’ve been surrounded by empowering, inspirational, and resilient women all of my life. For most of my upbringing I’ve had women pushing me and telling me that I can do and be anything. For those—women and men—that told me I couldn’t, I did it anyways. I try not to let the fear of “I can’t” or “you can’t” defeat me in anything that I wish to pursue. This is a new generation. A new time to redefine what it means to be a girl and what it means to be a woman. With that said, I feel it's my duty to continue to reach back and extend my hand to help women and girls reach their potential.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say my favorite class I took at Simmons was a course on Epidemiology. I was a public health major and was fascinated with predictions on and prevention methods for epidemics and pandemics on an international scale. I wanted to combine what I learned in this class with maternal and child health care in disadvantaged countries in Africa and South America. Yet, at the same time, I knew I had to take care of what is happening at home first.

Were you involved on campus at Simmons? What kind of clubs were you a part of?

Oh yes! Before the start of my first year I made sure I became involved on campus. I started as a facilitator and then became the coordinator for Education SPARKS, a program held under the Scott/Ross Community Center. The program engaged and exposed elementary students of the former Farragut Elementary School to different science activities. 

I shortly served as a student ambassador, where I met with Department Chairs and voiced the needs of my peers and helped find solutions for those needs. I participated in the Simmons hip-hop dance team and cofounded the Honors Liaison. During my junior and senior years, I served as President of the Black Student Organization and worked in the Registrar’s office as a Student Enrollment Assistant. 

How has it been transitioning into a young professional?

Great! There are days where it's easy and days that are challenging. I'm a very reflective person, so I take every day as a learning opportunity and apply all that I’ve learned into everything I do.

How did Simmons help prepare you to move into your career?

I remember in my Honors Philosophy course, Professor Diane Raymond asked the class (in not these exact words), “If there is one thing that you could get out of Simmons before you graduate, what would it be?” I said I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to leave Simmons knowing that what I had to say mattered and that it was heard. I wanted to feel that I could speak powerfully and communicate prolifically. You could say it was my active interest in being involved on campus and academic resources that factored in, but I would also say that it was the application of what I learned from these areas into my own personal and professional experiences that helped me to move in the direction I am in today.

What's your Simmons moment?

My moment was one that went from negative to positive—a moment that cannot be categorized as typical. I won’t get into all the details, but there was a moment on campus where several students and faculty were being discriminated against by other students in the community. I, along with many others, were very angry and decided to take positive action.

This action led to a community-wide event where a great number of women and men joined together in the “Zero Tolerance” campaign that was created by one of my peers. For me, it was continuing the legacy of what the foremothers of the Black Student Organization started with the 10 demands. For me, it was advocating for my sisters and brothers who became voiceless because they were demoralized and discriminated against. 

It was a moment where the Simmons community lived up to its name and mission of what being a Simmons woman truly means. And for that I am a very proud Simmons woman.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself owning my own business, continuing to be a lifelong learner and earning degrees in other fields that interest me. I'd like to travel across the world to gain new perspectives, and continue to advocate and empower youth!

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

Be open to all walks of life and place yourself in others' shoes. At the same time, don’t forget to walk in your own truth and make decisions that are true to yourself.