Stefani Johnson '17
Stem Alumna Finds Her Path
By Kimberly Kratz '11
Stefani Johnson ‘17 loves chemistry. She, like many STEM students, planned to focus on pre-med when she enrolled at Bucks County Community College as chemistry major. For the Bristol High School graduate, Bucks was close to home, and she said, “I was blessed to receive a scholarship for two years.”
While attending Bucks, Johnson worked in the administrative office at Newtown. There and in her classes at the Newtown and Bristol campuses she made many friends. She took a couple of online classes to fulfill her math requirements, interned at St. Mary’s Medical Center and worked as a student ambassador giving tours to prospective students and their parents. She also advocated for the STEM program, making announcements in her classes to inform students about various opportunities.
Johnson began to realize that while her interest remained in science, her passion did not lie in medicine. “I was getting a great education, but I think I just went a different way. I genuinely love to learn and love school.”
“Bucks was a great starting point; convenient in terms of location and resources. I knew many people going [there] out of high school. The professors were very available and knew who I was. Classes were small to medium sized, so I was not just a face in the crowd.”
As she approached completion of Bucks’ requirements for a chemistry degree, Johnson applied and was accepted at several colleges in Florida, Texas and New York. After a campus visit, she chose to transfer to St. John’s University in Queens where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
After graduation Johnson found work at a pharmaceutical company but after six months, she decided it wasn’t for her. A new search resulted in a job more to her liking as an analytical technician at Solvay, a specialty chemical company headquartered in Belgium with a local division close to her home. Its products and solutions are used in everyday products like the polymer formulations in shampoos and lotions, or oil and gas products for vehicles. Her typical day at work consists of sample prep, chromatography set up, sample analysis, and delivering written reports to respective clientele.
Johnson recently gave a presentation on her academic and employment endeavors with Bristol High School’s Chemistry Club students. “I explained some of the instrumentation that I have worked with in the past years. Some of the questions I got were about how and why my interest shifted,” she said.
For the student who wants to attend college but may not yet know the career goal, Johnson offers this advice: “Take all of your basic classes. In the meantime, look on the information boards about on campus seminars and talk to friends who have other majors. Ask them when their professors are free before or after classes and ask them to provide resources. Do a lot of online research about opportunities surrounding your interest.”
“You can always go old school too,” Johnson added.
“If there’s a seminar on women in science, just go. Or if there’s one on writing or how to write a book, how to open your own business, just go. Be open to anything. If you don’t know [whether your path should be] bio or chemistry, volunteer at science events and network. Put yourself in a position to grow and be heard.”
These days, Johnson spends time investing in her future. This includes furthering her education and increasing her quality of life. She believes all college students should be building relationships and listening to a financial advisor. Money can be the hardest reality check to come into after graduating. Johnson also advises students to: “Take your time while in school. Educate yourself outside of your major classes, travel, gain experience, and stay true to who you are.”
Johnson has a positive outlook about the future. She’s happy that with her education, there’s little to no pressure and she doesn’t feel overwhelmed. “I’m able to grow, but I’m hungry to learn more and I feel that I have a lot of potential.”
We couldn’t agree more.