By Haley Harvey
Many students discover who they are through what they do in college. There are numerous ways to get involved, with hundreds of organizations to join and positions to hold.
But it’s not easy for everyone to assume the role of a leader. Once a timid student, Amanda Johnson underestimated her ability to take charge in high school.
Now a junior at the University of Oklahoma, Johnson has immersed herself in several organizations on campus, even holding executive positions. Her fear of leadership is one of the past, and she is leaving her mark in the OU community.
HH: Tell me about your childhood and where you grew up.
AJ: I grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We live in the northwest part of the city and I’ve lived in the same house since I was little. I grew up with one sister, my mom and my dad. We were all super close growing up, and I’m still really close with my family. I went to a really small private school close to my house called Crossings Christian School. I went there from first grade and stayed through 12th grade. It was really small, so everyone knew each other. I knew all of the people in my graduating class because there were only like 50 students, and I had known them since I was in sixth grade.
HH: What kind of things were you involved in growing up?
AJ: I was really involved in sports. I did cross country, basketball, tennis and track while I was there. Since my school was really small, you had the opportunity to do a lot of stuff that you may not have if you went to a bigger school.
HH: Did you always know you wanted to go to OU?
AJ: Yes. My dad went to OU, so everyone in my family has been big OU fans. I’ve watched all the football games for as long as I can remember, and my dad and I always watched them together. I’m a hardcore OU fan. Oklahoma City isn’t that far from Norman, so I would always go to the games when I was little. I just always knew I wanted to go here.
HH: What kinds of clubs or organizations do you participate in at OU?
AJ: On campus I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to be a part of great organizations. As a freshman I really didn’t know anyone coming to OU, so I thought getting involved would be a great way to connect with people. Since I’ve come here I’ve gotten to be involved with Soonerthon (executive committee), OU Homecoming, I got to be a Rho Gamma this summer for sorority recruitment, a campus ministry called Crossover, the OU Daily, and Camp Crimson. I’ve gotten to be a small group leader these past few summers and being an SGL for Camp Crimson was really fun.
HH: Which one is your favorite to be a part of?
AJ: Probably Camp Crimson just because of the relationships I formed and to see how big of an impact it makes on campus. I think it’s super important to be a part of because it can really shape the lives of these incoming freshman, and just give them a great chance to get connected on campus.
HH: What have you gained from these organizations, or what have they taught you?
AJ: It has taught me a lot about myself and my leadership skills. In high school I was really shy, so I never wanted to take charge or lead in anything because I was scared and didn’t want to make anyone mad. But I realized you don’t have to be super outgoing to be a leader. You can use whatever skills and gifts you have to lead in your own way. It’s given me a great community at OU and I feel like I’ve been able to impact a lot of people as well as help myself grow as a person.
HH: Have you met any people that have made a lasting impact on you?
AJ: I’ve met a lot of people through these various organizations. I made great friends from camp through my connections with my campers and co-counselors, as well as through Soonerthon and homecoming. Being on the executive committee has been a lot of fun, and I’ve gotten to meet a ton of people. At Alpha Phi I’ve met some of my best friends. Working at the Daily has been a lot of fun too because I get to work with awesome people.
HH: Do you hope to stay involved in any of these organizations for the rest of your time at OU?
AJ: Yes. Hopefully I’ll get to continue being involved in such great organizations to be able to impact OU, make great friends and make the most of my time in college.
HH: Have these groups inspired what you want to do after college?
AJ: I think so. I think it’s given me more confidence in myself as a person and has allowed me to form relationships that have shaped me. It has helped me grow so I can be more confident and believe in myself, so that I can do anything I want to do.
HH: What would you say to incoming freshmen who want to get involved, but might be afraid to?
AJ: I would say don’t be afraid to put yourself out there even if it means getting rejected from an interview or an organization. Eventually you’ll find your place at OU and there’s so many great ways to get involved. It really helps you to connect with the community and helps your leadership skills grow. Even though it may seem scary at first, it’s worth it in the end to put yourself out there.