It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. Candace Johnson, senior mass communication major, is up and getting her son Sebian ready for school. After he’s on the bus, Johnson goes for a run with their great dane. She returns home, prepares for school, hops on her motorcycle, a Kawasaki ZX-1200, and arrives at Texas Wesleyan by 9 a.m. for Dr. Kay Colley’s survey of public relations class.
Johnny Jordan, sophomore mass communication major, will arrive at school an hour later to make it to Dr. Colley’s 10 a.m. feature writing class. Johnson is also a member of the class. They both work determinedly on the first assignment for the class. After that, they both head to Dr. Ben Hale’s audience analysis class. In both classes they are outspoken and inquisitive.
At Wesleyan, someone would be hard-pressed to find two people who are alike, even if they have the same major, or the same classes. Not only does the school have diversity among ethnicities, but also, diversity of the lifestyles of students. Johnson and Jordan are two such people.
Jordan is a part-time student who loves sports, video games and hanging out with his friends.
Jordan is returning to Wesleyan for the first time since the end of last fall. He took the spring semester off.
Jordan spent his freshman year of college at Tyler Junior College and said like most freshmen, he wasn’t ready for the college life. He attended Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus and took classes there before transferring to Wesleyan in fall 2011.
“I decided to come back to school; I’ve [had] to work my way back into things,” Jordan said.
Jordan said during the semester he took off, he realized that school was where he needed and wanted to be, and by next spring he plans to come back full time.
Jordan grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 2009. He said he was an outgoing student in high school.
“Everybody knew me there,” Jordan said. “Those were probably the best four years [of my life].”
Jordan is the youngest of five children and said that for a while he struggled with the responsibilities of young adulthood.
“I’ve been babied all my life, and I’ve always gotten what I want,” Jordan said. “Now I’m growing up and trying to get out of that [role]. I think that’s why it was so hard for me to really [adjust] when I left [home] for school.”
Jordan said although he had to learn the hard way, he now realizes he has to go out and get things on his own.
The concentration of Jordan’s major is radio-television. He said he hopes after he graduates from Wesleyan, he can make a living as a sports journalist and commentator.
Jordan said Dr. Ben Hale, professor of communications, is one of his favorite professors, and he loves the easy – going atmosphere of Hale’s class. Hale said he enjoys having Jordan in his class as well.
“He’s an attentive student,” Dr. Hale said. “He comes to class and seems to pay attention. I think he’s a good student.”
“His class is so laid back,” Jordan said. “He doesn’t throw too much at you at one time.”
His classmate, Johnson, is someone who knows all too well how to juggle multiple things thrown at her at one time.
Johnson is a single mother and a full-time student who has come to Wesleyan after years of putting college on the back-burner because taking care of her son and earning a living took precedence over getting her education.
Johnson was born in Georgia, but moved to Texas with her mom when she was 2 years old. Over the years, she would go back and forth from staying with her mom in Texas and staying with her dad in Georgia. Johnson graduated from O.D. Wyatt High School in 2000.
Johnson said over the 12 years since high school graduation, she has been to roughly six different colleges. She and her ex-husband met at UT Austin. They left when her ex-husband joined the Navy, and they transferred to Maine where she was a housewife. After they divorced, Johnson said she spent years trying to balance school and work, and she kept finding herself having to choose.
“It just became too hard to try and go to school full-time and work full-time,” Johnson said. “I’m not necessarily one of those people who can do both at the same time. I know some people can, but I can’t.”
Johnson spent time as a student at the University of Maine; she attended UT Arlington twice, and also attended Texas Woman’s University.
“If I failed too many classes or [if I did] something to where I couldn’t [go] back, I would just switch schools,” Johnson said.
Johnson said after her stepfather died, her family began to receive his VA benefits. With that, she was able to finally just focus on school. Johnson said she chose Wesleyan because of the small classes and nice general atmosphere.
“I’m the type of person who likes to ask questions and be able to talk to the professors,” Johnson said. “One of the reasons I think I failed some of my classes [at those other schools] was just not being able to get that one-on-one I needed with the professors.”
Johnson said coming to Wesleyan worked out in her favor, and the general environment of the university is what she needs at this stage in her life. Johnson said at age 30, she has an idea of where she wants to go and how she wants to get there.
“I don’t know specifically what I want to do career wise, but I know the public relations and communication area is it,” Johnson said. “I just want to narrow down what area I want to focus in.”
Johnson said she hasn’t always been as outgoing and outspoken as she is today. Johnson said after getting divorced, she realized she had to take care of herself and her child, and to do that, she had to speak up.
“I’ve learned that it’s good to be more social,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to be the biggest social butterfly, but don’t be just a hermit crab either.”
Johnson said she enjoys riding motorcycles, and attributes that to her tomboyish nature as a child and describes herself as a thrill seeker.
Johnson is also a member of Big Dream Riders, a biker club that in addition to coming together over their mutual love of motorcycles, does community outreach with youth and the elderly.
“If we have the resources, we’ll do whatever we can to help,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Dr. Carol Johnson-Gerendas, is one of her favorite professors.
“She’s really awesome,” Johnson said.
Dr. Johnson-Gerendas enjoys having Johnson as a student.
“[She] is highly engaged with the subject matter,” Dr. Johnson-Gerendas said. “She has an open and inquiring mind,”
It’s a Wednesday morning. Neither Jordan nor Johnson has classes on Tuesday, so the hustle and bustle returns.
Johnson gets her son Sebian out of the door, goes for a run and gets ready for class.
A little later, Jordan is up and getting ready for the 10 a.m. class.
They may have the same major and some of the same classes, but their lives couldn’t be more different.