Senior Featured In Glamour

Cynthia D. Johnson '96 has been named one of Glamour magazine's Top Ten College women for 1995 Johnson received a $1,000 award and is featured in the magazine's October issue.

The 38-year-old award recognized college women for both academic excellence and involvement in activities outside the classroom.

Johnson was recognized for her work as a minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

She is the first woman minister among her family's five generations of clergy members.

"Basically, I felt what we would term a call to ministry and a call to service that came in the from of a burden to grow spiritually and help others grow spiritually," Johnson said, "I especially wanted to be involved in inner city ministry and be involved in inner city youths in particular."

Johnson formally began the process of becoming a minister in March of 1994 and preached her first sermon in September of that year.

She is now a licensed minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and will be ordained into the ministry next summer.

One of Johnson's primary goals as a minister is to maintain a strong focus on public service, she said.

With that goal in mind, Johnson said she spent the summer before her junior year volunteering with the Mission Hill Summer Program, an inner-city youth program run by Phillips Brooks House.

"The main thing I did was organize a speaker series," Johnson said. "I had as many of my friends as I could get come in and talk about their particular area of interest."

Johnson had friends speak to participants about everything from racial issue to public service to medicine.

"I wanted to let them know they have options," she said.

A though Johnson secured the Glamour award based on these activities, one of the most important achievements of her college career occurred after she was already recognized.

Last summer, Johnson founded the Rebuilding the Inner City Spiritually and Economically (RISE) program.

The program is designed to teach people how to become self-sufficient, giving them the necessary spiritual guidance and motivation, Johnson said.

"I think the strength of the program is that it recognizes the need for both spiritual and economic development, putting what many think are contradictory concepts together," Johnson said.

She said of the highlights of the RISE program was a fact-finding mission participants took to Ghana in early September to develop cultural, spiritual and economic awareness.

"It was a cultural mission in the sense that most of the participants were of African descent, and there's a certain sense of identity there that cannot be underestimated, a self esteem as far as having a sense of who they are that goes back further than slavery," Johnson said.

Spirituality was an important element of the trip because Ghana has very strong Christian elements, Johnson said.

"Individuals who professed to be Christian were really serious about it there," she said. "The two concepts of spiritual and economic development were clearly joined there."

Economics came into play because participants were able to see a developing country up close, Johnson noted.

In applying for the Glamour award, Johnson was required to obtain the nominating signatures of two deans and a professor.

"I saw this at a time when I was applying for various scholarships," Johnson said.

"I remembered someone from Harvard being honored by it before, decided to go ahead and apply," she added