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Worthington grad excels at first year in college

WHS 2013 graduate Cheniqua Johnson poses with her two Freshman of the Year awards from the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa. Erin Trester/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Cheniqua Johnson, a 2013 Worthington High School (WHS) graduate, recently wrapped up her first year at the University of Minnesota in a big way. 

In March, Johnson was awarded the 2014 Big XII Conference on Black Student Government Outstanding Non-Big XII Freshman of the Year Scholarship Award at the Big XII Conference at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

She was also the recipient of the Female Freshmen of the Year award, which was selected by the Black Student Union of the University of Minnesota.

“It was very cool being awarded Freshman of the Year in two states by two different universities,” Johnson said.

The 2014 Big XII Conference takes place annually and rotates to each Big 12 school in the Midwest.

“I had to fill out an application that included an essay about my personal statement,” Johnson explained. “The application is somewhat anonymous — you do list your name, but you don’t list what school you go to so there are no biases.

“So, when the judges are deciding the winner, they have no clue what school the person goes to — they just judge based on the application,” Johnson continued. “That is how I was able to achieve Freshman of Year in two states.”

Johnson is also an active member at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Black Student Union and Freshman PUSH Team.

“I was awarded the Freshman of the Year award by the Black Student Union at our end of the year celebration,” she said. “Again, I was very surprised and excited, but I think I won because I am so active in the organization.”

Johnson has also earned the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence highest honors award and is currently on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.77.

Johnson is no stranger to success. During her time at WHS, she was involved in FCCLA, BPA, band, choir, the science club, speech and soccer, all while maintaining high grades.

“Obviously, Worthington is a lot different than being in the Cities, but honestly, once you find your place there, it still has that same small-town feeling,” Johnson said. “You find your group and your interests and kind of stick with that.”

Johnson is pursuing a major in business marketing education and family social science.

“I think being the first one in my entire family to attend college really pushes me,” she said. “After my four-year degree, I plan to attend law school and work in family court. I hopefully will open up my own law firm one day.”

Johnson was in Worthington recently for a quick visit, but she currently resides in Minneapolis. She works two jobs on campus as an administrative assistant at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, as well as in admissions at the school.

Johnson gave some last advice for the WHS 2014 graduating class.

“I just wanted to congratulate all of the seniors this year,” she said. “A tip for going into college is just to make your stance and keep you academics up, because it does make a difference. College is what you make of it.”

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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