The Diamond Club, a female success and service club at Carver High School, hosted a visit by Monique Johnson on March 22 for Women’s History Month.
Johnson only stands at 24-inches due to the scoliosis she was born with. Doctors only gave her six years to live, but she has been proving them wrong for 26 years now. She has a “can do” spirit that knows no limits.
After graduating from Glenn High School, Johnson went on to major in Business Administration at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She completed her law degree at Elon College and passed the bar exam in early April. Johnson, who is also an avid artist, has achieved nationwide recognition for achieving great things despite the odds.
She began her message with the rapper Drake’s definition of success – money, cars and clothes.
“Drake’s definition of success explains what many people believe success is. I decided that I didn’t want the same things that Beyonce and Jay-Z want,” she said. “I knew I was unique. I rewrote my definition of success. My definition includes being happy, enjoying life, giving back to the community and society.”
Johnson said she knew she was determined when she climbed four flights of stairs after a fire alarm went off. Her drive grew stronger after being told in high school, where she was a straight-A student, that she would not be able to attend the college of her choice because of her physical limitations.
Johnson sold her artwork to raise money for the 24-hour nurse she would need to help her navigate a college campus.
“How do you motivate others? What do others remember about you after you are gone?” Johnson asked students. “I am living my life’s purpose, not by osmosis, not by hoping to win the lottery, but by being determined to reach (my) goal. It took hard work, being focused, being determined, writing down my goals, being obedient, listening to authority and being responsible in order to be fruitful.”
Carver students said they were inspired by Johnson’s words.
“You should not allow anything to stop you from achieving a goal that you have, even if you have a disability,” said senior Tenesha Hall. “I learned that you should not lose focus, even if someone else tries to put you down. Stay true to yourself by having determination, dedication and success.”
Freshman Janiya Parrot added, “Monique Johnson taught me that anything is possible. God put you on earth for a reason and everybody has their own reason. No matter what obstacles come before you, you should just jump over them and keep it moving.”
Learn more about Johnson and view her artwork at lifewithmonique.com.