Finding Your Community

A picture in 2014 of St. Anna Jamaica

By Nathan Easington Howard University News Service

Changes are hard.

As adults, it can be easier to cope with change compared to when you are a child.  However, overcoming drastic changes like your father leaving your family for a year to find work, you and your five siblings following him to a new country, and then having to relearn a country’s customs and culture would be hard for anybody.  Veronica Johnson beautifully adapted to these changes and then thrived in her new community.

“Growing up was hard sometimes, we were often bullied for our accents and just because we were different than the other kids,” said Johnson.

After moving from St. Anna, Jamaica in 1972 following her father, Johnson was thrown into a public middle school as a nine-year-old, attending Burgwin elementary in Pittsburgh, PA.  Johnson alongside her three sisters and two brothers were forced to stick together as “new kids” on the block just months after arriving. Their father who had left about 18 months prior had gone ahead of the family to establish a base for when they arrived.   

As she and her siblings continued through public school in Pittsburgh, she and her brother Cordus Easington found a specific keenness towards the medical field.

“She was the one who showed me the importance of books, education and knowledge and how far they could take you,” said Easington.

After finishing school at Duke University, Johnson chose to become a medical assistant working at hospitals in D.C. and Virginia.  During her free time, Johnson choses to volunteer helping younger kids learn to read in the D.C. and Virginia public school systems.  

“My time at the V.A. medical center was both some of the hardest and most rewarding work I have done while in the field of medicine,” said Johnson.

However, Johnson again chose to press even further into the idea of the American Dream after her husband, Kevin, suggested she start her own photography business.  This, in turn with a few other small business ventures, allowed her to start her most recent project, a fashion company connecting unique West African purse designers to local customers in D.C. and throughout the U.S.  

Since starting the company towards the end of 2015, it has since blossomed into very productive and useful website, completing over 25 personalized orders per month.  Something that Johnson believed would never happened.

“I like the styles of the bags coming from the African content, but I couldn’t find them anywhere, so I started my own way of getting them to the U.S. easily,” said Johnson.  

While these feats would be impressive for any person regardless of them being natural born or not, her work in and around the D.C. area and community, as a businesswoman, medical assistant, and volunteer is proof that any changes can be overcome despite their potential level of difficulty.