Alumni Success Stories - Ed Johnson

Alumni Success Stories - Ed Johnson

My name is Ed Johnson and I am a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University. With a bachelor's in political science and a master's degree in political science and business administration. I am the executive director of governmental affairs of Brookdale Community College, which is our local Community College here in London County New Jersey, I'm also the retired mayor of Asbury Park having served 15 years in that office. And I currently am also an ambassador for the global Parliament of Mayors.

Tell us about your family and background.

I'm from New Jersey so my family has always been Educators my mom and my dad and my Stepmother too has been in education and that's always been an important emphasis in our family is education my parents really were the first generation of our family to meet their college degrees and then go on to get their masters and their doctorates but all throughout our family the history of our family it's been about you know educating yourself as my grandmother would tell me that you know if you get your education that's something that no one can ever take from you and that it certainly was a key to the Future so that really was a huge emphasis in our lives all of my brothers and sisters followed on and we got to you know Advanced degrees in education and never looked back 

Tell us about your hobbies.

Well my hobbies are swimming I live here at the beach of course in Asbury Park as well on the Atlantic Ocean and that's something I've always been involved I love the beach. I love swimming and it seemed me through quite a bit you know as a swimmer I took swimming at the natatorium Eastern New Mexico University and got my WSI, and then I spent summers in Portales serving as a lifeguard at the city pool and the assistant manager so it's a hobby that's been good to me and also and it helped keep me in paying the bills right when I started staying in Portales during the summer time.

Why did you choose to attend ENMU?

Well as a Jersey kid, I lived in a small town in South Jersey where you could actually go outside and see the City Lights of Philadelphia you can see the skyline. My mom worked in Philadelphia it was my parent's plan for me to stay in the New Jersey area. But I had other ideas I received and I'm not quite sure how I got the information from Eastern New Mexico University but I filled out the interest form. We opened the postcard and I started getting calls I started getting the information I got that wonderful postcard that showed Billy the Kid on his horse and the mountains in the background and the Sands. You know that old saying “Go West Young man” I climbed on an airplane at Philadelphia International Airport and the next stop was Clovis, New Mexico. In fact, I was just back for homecoming this past fall so it was really an interesting trip to take that trip again because I can remember as an 18-year-old high school graduate Landing in Clovis, New Mexico getting off the airplane and thinking to myself what have I done and taking that drive down the highway from Clovis to Portales getting to Eastern New Mexico checking in and my dorm was Eddie Hall and you know it was just such an exciting time to go someplace new. You could be who you were, and you could meet new people it was a part of the country that I'd never been to whatsoever and it just was I never looked bad it was just such a wonderful experience one that I'm glad that I took full advantage of.

Why did you choose to study political science?

I've always been, I guess you could say a political junkie I'm not quite sure whether you're familiar with these ancient things that are called magazines. But in our house, we used to get Thai Newsweek, U.S News, and World Report the paper. I used to read those and just digest them in my history classes or social studies classes I could read through that book in one day just because I was very drawn to history and to politics. I would stay up and watch the elections as they happened and you know I was very much involved in current events and just as an interest so I was looking for my major and I saw political science I didn't realize that that was the selection of political science and so when I chose political science and then as I you know studied political science and continue to answer the question of what are you going to do with that and so it ended up well.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve in your career?

My career has taken me to many places, which I had no idea. It's funny if you were to show me when I was sitting at Philadelphia International Airport waiting to board if you were to show me a video of where I am now I would think to myself why would I be living in Asbury Park, New Jersey why would I be there why would I be traveling abroad? That’s something to share, I want to have the opportunity to speak with current college students or high school students about their future is, be ready for the unexpected. Be open to opportunity and take advantage of it because we never know where it’s going to show up or what it's going to present. This really came from my parents because you know I'm a child of the late 60s so I can remember the unrest in the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. I remember clearly those things and you know what I learned from my parents and from my family is a responsibility to make your community a better place. To make it better than when we arrived and to work hard to provide opportunity understanding of the reason that I got to be mayor of Asbury Park I got to work with the global Parliament of Mayors or I get to be an executive director is because of the Blood Sweat and Tears many generations before me that made that possible and so there was a special responsibility departed in the US my brothers and sisters and our family members to be active in the community wherever that Community is and to make sure that you know you pass on the opportunities that you have On to the Next Generation so I see that as my the goal of my career that's if I could just do a little bit of that if you know the younger generations of those current students in Eastern New Mexico University have the opportunity to reach a little further to you know to go to new Greater Heights than I did then I think that's a life well lived and that's my overall goal.

What was your favorite part of being a Greyhound?

Meeting so many different people involved with Student Activities when I was in Eastern I got to be Student body president I served two terms. As student body president I got to be involved appointed by the governor of New Mexico to be on the student Board of educational Finance I think I was one of the first two students to be appointed to that role. Meeting people on campus taking advantage of the activities on campus. Also, you know once I started staying in the summers getting to meet the town folk getting to meet the people of Portales and Clovis and the surrounding area. And to this day there are some of the best friends that I have that I got to meet during the summertime and get off campus and enjoy the community of Portales. Like I said I worked at the city pool and if you've been in Portales in the summertime there are a few things to do but when it's 102 degrees you want to be at that pool so that was like the place everybody went to. Getting to meet some locals and create new friendships and you know at the University just the Hands-On that the faculty and the staff and the administrators I mean you knew and you would see the president you knew who the faculty were they knew who you were and you know everyone was really involved.

Where was your favorite location at ENMU?

I don't know whether you know this or not down in the basement Campus Union building there used to be a snack bar, Game Room, and bowling alley, and actually, you could take bowling as your sport so for one term I took bowling clubs as my Phys Ed requirement and it was all down there so you know one of my favorite spots was because our student government office was there I spent a lot of time student body press there that was always a meeting point you know to meet me at the main desk in the car and we'll go from there you know not to mention the cafeteria which I've learned to appreciate after what 40 Years of coming home and having to cook my own dinner I've appreciated being able to pick up a tray and going down the line.

What professor mentored you?

Dr. Caldwell and I arrived at Eastern together so when I arrived in the fall of 1980 she arrives as well as a brand new uh instructor or professor and I believe she was teaching English. I was in her English class so she's one that that uh you know really mentored me and helped me to understand you know the importance of you know writing skills which I still focus on today.

What advice would you give to students interested in political science?

Follow through there's so much you can do, yeah you're going to face the questions. What are you going to be president? And just to look them in the eye and say yes. Be president and be a teacher. I would say follow your dreams you know and that's something that is worth you know more than a million dollars in terms of at this day and age I have friends who you know went down the money path they chose a major where oh I can make a lot of money and do this and that and ended up not being happy. Choose a career that makes you get out of bed in the morning that makes you want to go and you come home at the end of the day and you feel like you know what I did something today I really I did something you see that light bulb go on above a student's head in the classroom. You solve a problem in your community when you see you know kids playing at a playground that wasn't there before. They're safe and you know they're doing something active and being involved. Don't worry about what other people have to say and then really to everyone just follow your dreams follow what you want to do figure out you know who you want to be and where you can go because college is really I have to say when I landed there's very few times in life we get to pack your whole life into a trunk and go someplace where no one knows you. And get to create yourself all over again and that was going to college and then leaving college and going to your career and you get to arrive and be a brand new person. And people get to know you the way you establish yourself at college or career is very few times you can do that so take full advantage of that and do something that makes you happy! Do something that's fulfilling I climbed on that airplane you're telling my parents that I was going to be a political science major and they have that look in their eye like what are you going to do with that it was it was yeah it's been a long journey but it's been a great journey to Eastern really you know I played a key role in helping me get to where I am today.


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