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BY [Deja ALLEN]

Imani Johnson: A BORN LEADER

3rd-Year Student In high school, Florida A&M University student Imani Johnson began an innovative service project titled “First Steps for Premies.” Then 16 years old, she donated more than 100 gift baskets to community hospitals in Miami in the first three years of the project. She says her desire to help premature babies and their families was born while she was an intern at Jackson North Medical Center. “I spent most of my time helping in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where I learned a lot about the struggles that families experience while caring for a premature child,” said Johnson, who today is a third-year health informatics and information management student. According to Johnson, premature babies are more likely to suffer from health issues that require extended hospital stays. This can put families under a great deal of stress, she said. Her work and compassion have earned her one of the highest honors of the Girl Scouts organization: the Gold Award. This coveted award is reserved for the best and brightest women who have undertaken projects that improve their communities and the world. She said, however,

that the smiles of the parents she helps are her true reward for the work she does. “I knew this was something I had to continue when I witnessed a mother crying after receiving one of my baskets,” she said. “I was told she was overwhelmed because of my gift. Seeing how happy I made someone made it all worth it for me.” When Johnson became a Rattler three years ago, she seized it as an opportunity to expand her project – which has now been going strong for five years. She partnered with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, recruited fellow students and got campus organizations such as SISTUHS, Inc. engaged. Her parents have even traveled to Tallahassee to help her assemble gift baskets. She leans on her personal and family resources and generous donations of time, talent and treasure by others to keep her efforts going. To date, the project has allowed her to provide 650 handmade gift baskets, filled with necessities such as baby bottles, baby wash, baby lotion, bibs, socks, onesies, blankets, Vaseline, Q-tips, diapers and a special bonus: a teddy bear. Johnson believes she couldn’t have been as successful in her

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3.4 GPA Maintained 5-Year Service Project 501(k) Nonprofit Visionary 650 Handmade Gift Baskets Donated 10,000+ Smiles Generated efforts without the help of one special guy: her twin brother, Myles Johnson. A Rattler himself, the third-year student in criminal justice has run last-minute errands, delivered baskets, recruited support team members and more. “I am very proud of my sister,” said Myles. “She has done great things with this project. I want to see it grow bigger and bigger over the years.” In December 2016, Johnson launched another project titled “Bundles of Love.” Blankets and books were collected to promote the bond between mothers and their new additions. Johnson was able to donate a bag for each day of the month – 31 total – to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. She plans to continue this project in fall 2017. Johnson also continues to add to her long list of volunteer hours. Her activities include assisting with the University’s annual Grape Harvest Festival,

the ALARM Food Drive and the Florida Department of Education Health Fair. She also currently serves as Miss Health Informatics and Information Management at FAMU. Despite her busy schedule. Johnson has maintained a 3.4 GPA, and she serves FAMU and the surrounding community as a resident assistant, a FirstYear Experience peer mentor, a member of SISTUHS, Inc. and a lifetime Girl Scouts member. Still, her labor of love is not complete. “I want to encourage more students to help me with my project or even start their own project like I did,” she said. “I actually plan on creating a 501(k) nonprofit organization that gives back to the community, as well as mentor teenagers. I want to continue to come up with unique projects that relate to the needs of all age groups.”

Profile for FAMU Communications

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...

Summer 2017 A&M Magazine  

Welcome to the summer edition of the award-winning A&M Magazine. This issue highlights alumni, students, faculty, staff, programs and partne...