Hermana Kenami

Crystal Johnson

Crystal is a City College ‘15 Graduate who majored in English Literature and minored in Theatre. By 2016, she graduated from New York University with her Masters Degree in Teaching English Education 7th – 12th and Teaching Students with Disabilities 7th – 12th. She has dedicated her life to empowering students with the tools they need to become ambassadors of knowledge and valuable members of society.


img_7795I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City with my mother and older sister. My father lived in Queens and I got to spend every weekend with him, which are memories that I will always treasure. My mother is Puerto-Rican and my father is African-American, so it was always fun to live a little in both worlds. As I grew up, my parents struggled to make ends meet so that I could attend private school. Since neither of my parents had attended college they felt as though providing me with a good education would help me have a promising future. During my time in school I made an effort to keep my grades high, join sports teams, and do community service. Looking back, I realize the instrumental role that those choices have played towards my success.

As I mentioned earlier, I was able to live a little in both worlds because of the respective cultures that both of my parents brought into my life.

Although I’m thankful for the experiences these cultures have provided me a chance to have, this brought on it’s own set of challenges. I found it difficult to find a place among my family and peers where I felt as though I was enough. Being around Latino men and women who looked at me as though I was just African-American and then being around African-American men and women who believed that I was just a Latina. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned to love myself for who I am; A Beautiful Afro-Latina.


Once I had accepted that I could love both beautiful sides of myself I decided that I wanted to be a part of an organization that was spreading that message of love and acceptance to others.


When I was a student I had the opportunity to be surrounded by amazing teachers who cared about my growth and future. I love working with my students and I know that I will spend the rest of my life giving students the guidance and attention that I was able to have when I was a student. I’ve seen the difference that a teacher can make in a student’s life when they take the time to invest and realize that students potential. The moments that I have spent teaching have been the most rewarding moments of my life.img_2293-1

After graduating college I decided to pursue my masters degree in English Education and Special Education to work on gaining certification to teach in New York State. I worked for three years at a charter school on the Upper West Side in my old neighborhood of Inwood, NY, which was an amazing experience because the students were all experiencing life the way that I had experienced it when I was younger.

Now that I have graduated with masters degree from New York University I plan on using my education and experience to teach middle school and high school students in my neighborhood.

What would you say to yourself when you first entered College/University?

I’d remind myself to explore every opportunity and enjoy every moment. There were so many times when I’d be so focused on the finish line that I’d miss the beautiful journey that I was embarking upon. All of the struggles, pain, smiles, and laughter are what shaped me into this person that I have become and I embrace all of it.

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