May will be a busy month for University of Houston-Victoria student Melonese Johnson and her loved ones.
The family will celebrate two graduations.
At the same time Johnson completes her master’s degree in counseling, her son, Keith Greenwood, will prepare to cross the stage at his high school commencement ceremony.
“I’ll graduate two weeks before he gets his diploma,” she said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The road to a degree wasn’t always an easy one, the Richmond native said. Not only did she balance a full-time job and part-time course load, but during much of her education, she was a single parent to her adopted son.
“When I say it was a bit much, it was a bit much,” she said with a laugh, noting she also married her husband, Brian Johnson, amid her studies. “But nothing in life is free, and anything worth having is worth working for. I just kept doing my best.”
Johnson, 41, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston-Downtown before moving on to UHV. She called her decision a win/win, since the campus was close to home and classes meshed with her schedule.
Counseling wasn’t always on Johnson’s radar.
A lifelong lover of numbers, accounting was what Johnson set out to do. As she went through school and found others going to her for advice, however, she re-evaluated those plans.
“I love helping people and realized it was something I could turn into a career,” she said. “That passion is what drove me toward getting my degree.”
While a current internship has her working with juveniles, Johnson said she hopes to get experience in a variety of subsets, especially marriage and family counseling. That way, she can find that perfect fit.
Regardless, her current work is rewarding.
“Counselors aren’t God, and we can’t save everybody,” she said. “But I can only hope that something I say or do can help a child become a success in life and overcome obstacles.”
Looking ahead, Johnson is excited about what the future holds. She looks forward to the upcoming graduation ceremonies, but she also has big plans once her calendar clears a bit.
“I want to take a dance class. I want to paint. I want to fix up a house - all the things I haven’t been able to do with my schedule,” she said. “I’m excited.”
I am a Jaguar is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.