LAURINBURG – Daniel Johnson is a busy 16-year-old but not with the things that might take up a typical teen’s time. His world is divided between sports, academics and volunteer work.
He is not only taking Advance Placement courses at Scotland High, he is taking dual enrollment classes at Richmond Community College and Sandhills Community College. He is a member of National Beta Club, Key Club International, National Honor Society, JROTC and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Johnson also plays soccer and tennis.
It was Johnson’s well-round schedule that helped win him the Dormagen-McLean Community Youth Service Award at the recent Laurinburg-Scotland County Chamber of Commerce banquet. The award is given to a young person between the ages of 15-21 who has served as a community leader and peer role model. The honor comes with a $4,500 scholarship.
“I didn’t plan to take this much stuff, but it just sort of turned out that way,” Johnson said. “I work it out though. I get by. I’ve learned to balance things if anything.”
Johnson hopes that being involved in so many activities will earn his way into college.
He has applied to UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, Davidson College and University of Pittsburg although he jokes that he wouldn’t go there because he has to be able “to come home to get something to eat.
He has already been accepted to UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte.
Johnson is working so hard to earn money for college because he wants to take some of the financial burden off his parents —Daniel Johnson and Johnnerlyn Johnson
“I have two sisters, and I don’t want to have my parents pay for all three of our educations especially when I know I can do for myself” Johnson said. “And then it’s always good to push yourself. It helps you grow.”
He has applied for the Levine Scholars Program at UNC Charlotte, the John Montgomery Belk Scholarship at Davidson College, the John F. McNair Scholarship for Scotland High Students and a Lumbee River EMC Scholarship.
The teen plans to pursue major in Mathematics for Business and a minor in Psychology and Political Science.
Johnson currently serves with the city of Laurinburg Public Works Department through Scotland High’s Career and Technological Education intern program.
Josh Coble, systems administrator for the city called Johnson a “bright kid” who only needs a small amount of instruction.
“I can put him on other projects that I don’t have time to devote myself to and he goes right for it,” Coble said.
The busy young man also finds time to volunteer with 4-H, JROTC cadet volunteers, EMBODI- Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence – a peer to peer male mentoring program out of Bennettsville and Cheraw, and R.E.E.A.C.H. Youth Mentoring Program.
He plans to continue to volunteer in college but said he may not be involved in quite so much because he wants to have more time for hobbies.
Johnson plays drums for St. Mark Marlboro Church in Bennettsville and is learning piano, guitar, and bass. Johnson likes jazz music and had hoped to be a part of Scotland’s Jazz band but couldn’t work it out with his busy schedule.
He also likes to read and write poetry. Johnson’s favorite poet is Langston Hughes and “Dreams” is his favorite poem. His grandmother, Betty Gilchrist of Bennettsville, had a large framed copy the poem. Johnson said his grandmother told him that she is very proud of him.
The teen was working his way through an anthology of classic fiction of the Harlem Renaissance but had to set it aside to focus on his AP Literature class.
Johnson said competition with his peers is part of what motivates him, but his parents are the main source of his drive him because they have always pushed him to achieve all that he can.
His mother, Johnnerlyn, a developmental English instructor at Sandhills Community College is pleased with her son’s hard work. She added that she does not worry about him taking on too much because she knows that he thrives on challenges.
“I could not be more proud of Daniel than I am right now,” she said. “He has accomplished more in 16 years than many are willing to attempt in a lifetime.”