Growing up in St.Paul, Minnesota, Brieonna Johnson’s interest in international affairs was cultivated by Ms. Helman, her high school Spanish teacher. Ms. Helman was truly passionate about her students developing a deep understanding of the Spanish language. “I never would have known I wanted to work abroad, if Ms. Helman hadn’t pushed me to make my aspirations a reality,” Brieonna states. Ms. Helman also told Brieonna that she could have a great career as a diplomat, given her tendency to attempt to negotiate her way out of tedious assignments. Brieonna proposed taking a class trip to Central America to help others. Brieonna contacted Habitat for Humanity, organized the trip, and coordinated fundraising efforts. “I sold over 1000 candy bars and worked two part time jobs to raise the funds, and the trip to Guatemala was life changing and allowed me to see a world beyond Minnesota.”
Since then, Brieonna has studied abroad in the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Japan. In 2015 she graduated from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and then participated in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program. “The Summer Enrichment Program introduced me to careers in the field that I would have never been exposed to,” she said. Brieonna was able to gain mentors and insight into many available career options, and receive advice from Admissions Officers from top graduate schools in international affairs. “The Summer Enrichment Program was a truly meaningful experience and it reinforced how crucial developing citizens with an interest in international affairs is to the United States. The program led me to learning a great deal about my field and focus my career path,” Brieonna states.
After the Summer Enrichment Program, Brieonna went on to participate in the Carter Center Democracy Program Internship, during which she accepted a position as an intelligence analyst. Brieonna ultimately wants to become a Foreign Service Officer and serve the United States abroad, while helping others.