Dean Smith’s family and the University established the fund, which assists undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Education and the School of Social Work. The fund honors Smith’s dedication to social justice, public education and advancing the civil rights movement, according to a press release from the School of Education.
“Winning it means a lot,” Johnston said. “Personally, coming from out of state and paying out-of-state tuition, I was really overwhelmed. I was starting to rethink if it was the best option.”
Meghan Walter, Johnston’s professor and the school counseling program coordinator, said she nominated Johnston for the scholarship because of her academic achievement and previous experience with advising.
“I remember Alexandria coming to us first at the beginning of the year in January for an on-campus interview when she applied to the program,” Walter said. “Her background stood out to me right away, she has a lot of experience in advising.”
Johnston has worked in rural Virginia schools in the school counseling office.
“The students at the high schools I worked at were largely low-income and lower represented students, and I encouraged them to eventually enroll and pursue higher education,” Johnston said.