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Johnathan Johnson selected Gentleman of the Year 2017

SAC graduating senior to pursue medical studies in a personal battle against cancer
  • St. Augustine’s College graduating senior Johnathan Johnson, 17, has been selected Gentleman of the Year 2017. He was awarded a $17,000 scholarship. He plans to pursue medical studies with the aspiration of becoming an oncologist. PHOTOS: JOHNATHAN JOHNSON

  • Gentleman of the Year 2017, Johnathan Johnson, with his parents, John and Inger Johnson.

SHAVAUGHN MOSS
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
shavaughn@nasguard.com

Published: May 15, 2017

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For Johnathan Johnson, his aspiration of becoming an oncologist is personal, and the $17,000 scholarship he was awarded after being named Gentleman of the Year 2017 will assist the St. Augustine’s College (SAC) graduating senior as he begins his post secondary education and the start of the journey to fulfill his mission.

Johnson, 17, plans to study biochemistry at St. John’s College in Minnesota before enrolling in medical school. He has had firsthand knowledge of the insidious cancer disease, as he saw his grandfather, Aubyn Hall, succumb to the disease.

“My grandfather, Aubyn Hall, was one of the greatest influences…one of my greatest friends … one of my greatest mentors. He was literally my third parent. He was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer in early 2013, and he died November 2013. He didn’t even get to see a year after his diagnosis, and that really touched me. Seeing him in that hospital bed — and just from what he was, a jovial and happy person, to have cancer just reduce him to basically nothing really touched me,” said Johnson.

His scholarship award will go toward making his aspiration a reality. Johnson said when he applied for admission into the program, he did so not knowing about the cash prize that went to the person named Gentleman of the Year, until he’d actually won.

Graduating young men have to apply for acceptance into the program. Each potential Gentleman of the Year candidate is considered from a holistic point of view, taking into account grades, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters from their respective schools and their essays.

Johnson said, looking back at his experience in the program, he was honored to have been among 41 of some the brightest young men in the country. To be named basically the best out of that group, he said, was an added honor and what he had really wanted.

“That’s what made me proud to win,” he said. “It wasn’t really about the money; so when they made the announcement it was like, ‘Oh really? Thank you. It will be a great help as I further my education.’ Seventeen thousand dollars is not a little bit of money.”

Johnson’s scholarship haul also included the $1,200 Mr. Price Rolle Toastmaster’s Award.

Queen’s College’s Llando Chea was the program’s first runner-up. He received a $10,000 scholarship, as well as a full tuition scholarship tenable at Morehouse College.

Aquinas College’s Stephen Seymour was awarded the Archdeacon William Thompson Academic Award of $8,000 as well as a full tuition scholarship tenable at Morehouse College.

C.V. Bethel’s Simeon Farquharson took home the Dr. Judson Eneas Scholarship (Omega Psi Phi) valued at $3,000.

Temple Christian School’s De’Antez Knowles took home a $5,000 scholarship by virtue of his essay contest win. Taking home $1,200 scholarship awards each were Aquinas College’s Gregory Stubbs, as the talent show performance winner; and SAC’s Wayne Cooper, as the talent show fine arts winner.

Johnson decided to apply to the program after hearing gents from the class of 2016 speak about it. He said they always spoke so highly about it that it caught his attention, and he thought it sounded like a good thing to be in.

He said he went in open-minded, not knowing what to expect. What he came away with, he said, is that the Gentlemen’s Club is basically a wealth of knowledge for young men.

“I’ve been taught so many things — etiquette, grooming, how to treat a woman and how to be a respectful man in today’s society. Public speaking is also a very big part of the Gentlemen’s Club. Their motto is that, as a man, you should always be well spoken and able to speak on any topic on a dime.”

Johnson said he watched many of his “brothers” grow in confidence from being shy and quiet in the beginning to young men who now speak confidently in public. He said while it was a great thing to see, it also helped him with his public speaking.

After his experience, he encourages all young men who qualify to apply for acceptance into the program. He said it would probably be one of the best decisions they make, but an open mind and being ready to involve themselves in activities are key.

“You literally get out what you put in,” he said. “If I didn’t involve myself so much in the club, I would never have been Gentleman of the Year. I would never have received a scholarship. But really there is such a wealth of knowledge in the Gentlemen’s Club; it’s beautiful. I would advise every young man to keep their grades up and just stay involved.”

Johnson isn’t just a person who talks the talk; he also walks the walk. For six years at SAC he has always made the honor roll and enjoyed the distinction of having the highest male grade point average (GPA) from seventh grade through to graduation.

“I’m very proud of that, and I worked hard to keep that,” he said.

His cumulative GPA is currently 3.79. He does not know what his final term GPA will add to that, but in his first term in 12th grade he was at 3.91.

The son of John and Inger Johnson said striving for academic excellence was the foundation set for him by his parents and primary school teachers.

“They saw that I had the ability and they always pushed me. They never let me settle. I was raised not being allowed to settle, so it became like first nature to me to not settle and to work as hard as I could, because I could do it. And I just carried that throughout high school.”

Johnson is in the process of sitting the two advanced placement (AP) exams SAC students are allowed to take — English and math. He is also writing eight Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams — biology, chemistry, physics, accounting, math, English, literature and combined science.

And he’s confident about how he will fare.

“I have no fear of those exams, because St. Augustine’s College really does prepare us very well. They actually have us working to such a level and such a standard that BGCSEs should be a breeze,” he said.

And then it’s on to the next phase of his educational journey that he says is just as important as high school.

“Education means so much to me, because education is my key to the future. I want a career, I don’t want a job. So for my career, I need a certain education, and it’s impossible to become an oncologist without education. So really and truly, education is my way to my future, so it is everything to me actually.”

When he’s not hitting the books, Johnson confesses to being a soccer fanatic, which he has played since eighth grade. He was even captain of the team in his last year. He has also grown out of the Youth 17 division, where he played for Cavalier FC.

“Soccer is my life. I absolutely love soccer, and if I’m not playing it, I’m watching it,” he said.

Johnson said he’s also interested in sports and luxury cars.

He also said he likes positivity and positive people in his sphere.

“I like being around positive people. I like jokes. I like happiness and fun. If it's not going to make me happy, I just stray away from it. If there are people who aren’t going to add to my happiness, I just stray away from them. I always encourage people. Positivity is such a big thing to me, because positivity keeps your outlook proper. You have a good perspective on life, and when you have a positive outlook, life is just better for you.”

For four months every year, top graduating males become part of an elite club and are put through their paces, with the top male student emerging to earn the prestigious title of Gentleman of the Year.

The Gentlemen’s Club was founded by Dr. Judson and Marcheta Eneas and sponsored by the Bahamas Beautillion Committee when it was established in 1992. It is a preparatory organization for young men in their final year of high school. The club teaches its members about character building; respect; etiquette; elocution; grooming; and being socially, morally and financially responsible and culturally exposed. This is accomplished through a program that allows the students to participate in workshops, seminars and cultural activities.

Over the years, the club has trained hundreds of young men in the basics of masculinity and responsibility. As an academically based program, it gives the students opportunities to work toward earning financial assistance through marketing projects and sponsorship.

Young men who are chosen for the program are picked based on their grades, recommendations and community involvement.

Any of the young men participating in the program can rise to the top, as the winner is chosen due to his scores in the club’s ongoing scoring system. Points are accumulated for marketing skills, elocution, participation and attendance. The founder said the most important thing about the program isn’t winning or losing, but, rather, what the young men learn from the program and how they apply it to their daily lives and, in turn, use it to help society.

 

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