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'Incredible' work helping earthquake survivors in Haiti informed this … – ASU News Now

Rodrick Johnson’s time in Haiti serving as a technical advisor for the United Nations helped form his decision to pursue a degree in the Doctor of Behavioral Health program (specializing in management) through Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.
Johnson was already on the island on Jan. 12, 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the country, killing more than 200,000 people. Johnson spent days working search-and-rescue missions before being retasked with managing the logistics of both humanitarian medical aid delivery and the transportation of injured people to hospitals and clinics. College of Health Solutions graduate Rodrick Johnson Rodrick Johnson earned a Doctor of Behavioral Health from ASU's College of Health Solutions. Download Full Image
“Working with my colleagues at the UN and the people of Haiti was one of the high points of my life,” Johnson said. “It was a very tough time, and we lost many people. But the work we did together in that tough time was incredible.”
That work helped Johnson determine that he wanted to learn more about the delivery of health care services.
Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I knew I wanted to learn more about the delivery of health care services when I worked in Haiti just after the earthquake of 2010. I found myself managing the logistics of both humanitarian medical aid delivery and the transportation of injured people to hospitals and clinics.  
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I learned just how huge and diverse the various academic fields can be. It’s mind-blowing to see the depth and breadth of so many disciplines.   
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: ASU is consistently listed as one of the most innovative universities in the United States. It contributes as much original research as Ivy League schools. When it came to choosing a university, ASU was the best choice I could have made.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: I credit Dr. Lesley Manson with so much of my growth and development in this process. Her guidance and patience have made so much difference. She has been an incredible mentor.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
We have all at least thought of quitting; it gets hard. But keep going. It will all be worth it in the end.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I have studied everywhere — airports, airplanes, trains, taxis and between meetings. I make it work wherever I am. 
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: After graduation, I’ll be out there changing the world. Trying to “pay it forward” for every generous and selfless act everyone did to get me to where I am today.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: To solve a planetary problem, I would probably need some Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos money. But with 40 million I could definitely tackle a local or regional problem. I’d really like to train human services providers (non-profits, government agencies, charities) how to work synergistically so that people who need services don’t fall through the cracks or run into dead ends when trying to find the right service for their situation.
Communications Specialist, College of Health Solutions

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.The sky is the limit for Leo Leon, who is graduating this fall with a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.Leon, a proud member of the LGBTQ community, originally started their journey hoping to teach. At the suggestion of an advisor, the…
The sky is the limit for Leo Leon, who is graduating this fall with a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Leon, a proud member of the LGBTQ community, originally started their journey hoping to teach. At the suggestion of an advisor, they looked to English and discovered the many career opportunities the degree would offer.  Leo Leon, ASU Online graduate Leo Leon is graduating this fall with a bachelor’s degree in English from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Download Full Image
“It turns out you can do a lot with this major,” Leon said. “It gave me so many opportunities that I never thought I could have. Now I no longer want to teach; I want to write, more like an editorial assistant, and work in the publishing industry. Who knows? Maybe I can become a screenplay writer? A New York Times bestseller?”
The Brawley, California, native moved to Los Angeles when they were just 17 years old. Leon knew their passion for entertainment, acting, writing and producing would find an outlet in LA, but they also needed a degree to make it happen. 
Working at Starbucks allowed Leon to enter the Starbucks College Achievement Program as a transfer student, switching from a local in-person college to ASU Online. Initially nervous about transitioning to online coursework, they quickly discovered the many benefits of earning a degree online, not least of which was the flexibility to make their own schedule and learn on their own terms. 
Online coursework also allowed Leon opportunities to make an impact on other students’ academic journeys, such as working with first-year composition students and faculty in the Writers’ Studio.
“I had the opportunity to work with ENG 101 first-year composition students and immerse myself in the world of writing,” they said. “It was a learning process, but it’s worth noting how much I cannot thank the team! They are so professional but also very friendly. They want you to succeed and see how you can impact a student’s life.”
What happens next? Leon just published a book of poetry, “OCT 10.”, and plans on taking time to promote it. They also plan on indulging in some more travel before starting their next project. 
“Honestly, I couldn’t afford college, and I didn’t think I would be able to get my bachelor’s,” Leon said. “However, working at Starbucks helped me with the SCAP benefit. I can get my degree, not be in debt, and still manage to have a life. I couldn’t have done it without my support at Starbucks!”
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU Online — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
Answer: During the pandemic, many of my friends who transitioned from in-person to online were struggling to find that in-person connection they would typically get from attending in-person sessions. It helped change my perspective because everyone was working to find their balance; I realized online courses were a better fit for me. I had a lot of anxiety going to class in person, but I miss that sometimes. However, being online allowed me to go and be spontaneous like going to New York City but taking my school with me. That was cool!
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU Online?
A: I worked as a mentor for ASU Writing Studio, and I got to meet my Instructor Esparza, who lives in Chicago, but he made me feel as if we were in person. I learned more about my degree and saw where that took him. It inspired me to focus on my studies because with hard work comes great opportunities. I had so much fun working with him and learning lessons about myself and my capabilities with English writing. 
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: DO THE WORK. I sometimes know that online school can seem like an easy way to procrastinate. But, doing the work to have the freedom to go where life takes you, ASU online really allowed me to have that. Other times, you will feel like you’re alone; do not fear, you will meet people along the way and find your support groups. So many clubs and opportunities can help you feel less alone. I also tried to make friends. I have this one friend named David, and we relied on each other throughout the semester, and we still keep in touch! 
Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?
A: I would travel to work at coffee shops (not just Starbucks). I have always dreamed of being that artistic, coffee shop enthusiast. So, it gave me a chance to try different styles of coffee and also manage my work. It’s become my weekly tradition to try a new spot every week to get the job done. When I worked my two internships, on top of school, the only place I felt productive was at my coffee shops. Shoutout to Long Beach, CA, coffee shops! They are elite, and if anyone comes, they must try! 
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: The first thing I want to do after graduation is REST. I was working two internships, school full time, and working a full-time job. I want to be able to sleep and not stress. Other than that, I want to continue working on my projects. I have a book that came out recently called “OCT 10.” I have not paid much attention to it and want to promote it more and maybe write another book? Two? Also, I want to travel worldwide with my best friends and enjoy life. 
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: If we think about it, 40 million is not a lot. I want it to go somewhere I find handy and feel very needed. The first thing I think of is my home, Imperial County. I would divide the money equally through the county where it’s most needed, like our social services, mental health division, schools, etc. I always loved my home, and it’s where it gave me purpose. Giving back to my community is something I will always advocate and fight for. I would like to know that my home is being cared for, especially when I am no longer living there. 
Written by Margot LaNoue for ASU Online.
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