Alumni Spotlight - Jermaine N. Johnson ’13

Feb 26, 2020 9:30 AM

eNews Alumni Spotlight highlights alumni who give back to Frostburg in some way – time, talent, treasure or any combination. This edition of eNews features IT Business Analyst Jermaine N. Johnson ’13.

Current City: Temple Hills, Md.

Current Occupation: IT Business Analyst with the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education and CEO/Founder of Reality Check Mentoring, Inc.

Why do you love FSU?

My first time driving up Interstate 68 and passing through Sideling Hill, I knew this would be my home for the next four years. Many don’t know that I transferred to FSU my sophomore year from a school in Pennsylvania after receiving the news that I would be expecting a child. I wanted to be away from home but still close enough to get to my daughter, as well as in state for affordable tuition. Coming from the fast-paced DMV area to the mountains was my peace. The scenery, diversity, education and lifelong relationships are why I love FSU. 

Why do you give back (time, talent and/or treasure) to FSU?

It’s in my heart and a part of who I am. I was able to meet great people there and build relationships that I still have today. I’m excited anytime I am asked to visit campus to share knowledge and experiences with students.

What do you do for fun?

When I am not being a dance dad to my 10-year-old daughter, you can find me lifting weights in the gym, playing flag football or hanging out with friends. I’ve become somewhat of a homebody since purchasing my first home two years ago.

Tell us about a class or activity at FSU that has had a surprising effect on your life.

Surprisingly, working with the FSU Foundation under my work-study program allowed me to meet great people and gave me a newfound appreciation for the work that goes into not only receiving donations for the school, but also how a school cares for and connects with alumni by recognizing their accomplishments after they’ve graduated.

Favorite TV show

I don’t watch TV often but I have a few favorites. “Game of Thrones” had me hooked, and I’m still a little sad it’s gone. Since that’s over with, you can find me watching “Power,” “Snowfall,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” documentaries and Animal Planet.

What is your favorite memory of your time as a Frostburg student?

My favorite memory was walking across that stage at graduation with my daughter there to see me. Even though she was only 3 years old at the time and may not remember, this was one of my greatest accomplishments.

What is a cause dear to your heart?

Mentorship is something I am very passionate about. Specifically, mentoring our young males of color. I truly believe that any person can and will become what they aspire to be if given the proper resources and environment to do so. Because of this, I started a nonprofit in 2018. Reality Check Mentoring, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the minds of young males of color, ages 10-17, through mentoring focused on character development and education geared toward life skills, social and cultural awareness, conflict resolution and critical thinking. We strive to help our males realize that they can become valuable assets to society.

Tell us about a person or persons from FSU who had an impact on your life.

There were a few, but I first have to give thanks, love and appreciation to Liz Nelson ’01/M’17, Planned Giving Officer with the FSU Foundation. She may not remember this or understand how much this meant to me, but she interviewed me when I applied to work at the FSU Foundation under my work-study program. The day and time of the interview came earlier than I had expected, and it was in between my classes. I had just enough time to get there to meet with her and go to my next class for the day. I didn’t have on professional work attire, nor did I have a haircut, so I almost didn’t go because I felt I didn’t look the part. But I went, interviewed with Liz and got the job. When I showed up, the first thing I did was apologize to her for how I looked and hoped it didn’t affect her decision to hire me. This may be small to some, but this meant so much to me because it showed me how you “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Liz and I keep in touch often!

The second person who had a huge impact on my life, rest his soul, was Bernard Wynder ’78/M’84, who was assistant vice president for Student and Educational Services at FSU. He was a mentor and a man full of wisdom.

Last, but not least, is Dr. Evan Offstein, professor in the Department of Management, also known as Captain O! I took his leadership class, which was one of my favorite classes. He was authentic, transparent and a man who went after whatever goals he set and put his mind to, which was something I appreciated about him. His book, Stand Your Ground, is one that still plays an important role in my leadership journey.

Favorite comfort food?

Dark chocolate! It’s my weakness. 

Favorite vacation spot?

I honestly don’t have one yet because I haven’t truly taken a vacation, but I have plans to take a trip this year for my 30th birthday. I have Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic on the list.

Who is your doppelganger (famous person you resemble)?

I’ve been told I have a few. When I have a haircut, it’s Kofi Siriboe or Lance Gross. I’ve been hearing Mos Def a lot as well.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Great question. A lot of people do not know this about me, but I taught myself how to play the drums when I was about 11 years old. I stopped playing once I went to college. Back in 2017, I signed myself up for lessons but this was cut short due to me breaking two fingers on my right hand. I plan to get back into it this year, so a profession I would like to attempt other than my own is that of a drummer for a band.