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Amani Johnson is no stranger to leadership. As a resident assistant in Wheeler Hall, former president of Hall Council in Merrill Hall, Leadership Advancement Scholar and budding politician, he certainly knows his way around a leadership role.
But according to Amani, none of it would have been possible without CMU.
“When I was applying to colleges, it was clear that CMU had the most opportunities for me to get involved with things related to leadership, such as the Capital City Internship Program and the Leadership Institute,” Amani said. “And since I’ve come here, that’s led to getting involved with various conferences and hall council and other leadership opportunities.”
But for Amani, it’s not about the leadership accolades, it’s about the community.
“I was Merrill Hall Council president for two years, and I really enjoyed the community-building aspect. And I realized that if I moved off campus after my sophomore year, I wouldn’t have that same community. I figured I had my entire life to live in an apartment if I wanted to, so I applied to be an RA so I could keep doing those community-centric activities,” he said.
Amani is grateful that CMU also places emphasis on the value of community, both locally and globally.
“At CMU, there’s a big focus on education that isn’t necessarily academic, like exposing people to different cultures and different ideas and putting an emphasis on the fact that in the real world you have to work with lots of different types of people and coexist,” he said. “I always thought I was open minded, but working as an RA has made me even more open minded, because I’ve gotten to see where a lot of different people are coming from.”
He said that it’s the small things that really hit home and make his job worthwhile and impactful.
“I had a moment recently where a resident in a different part of the building came and asked to talk to me about a problem he was having. And I was surprised at first, because I’m not even his RA, so I asked him about it, and he just said, ‘I trust you.’ And that was really amazing to me, that I’m able to build relationships with residents that aren’t even my own, to the point where they trust me to talk about difficult topics like that.”
Amani hopes to work in government after graduation and would one day like to serve as an elected official.
He also is one of CMU’s student vloggers and creates vlogs chronicling his time at Central.
As part of CMU’s Capital City Internship Program, Amani works from Lansing twice a week at his representative’s office.