Darius Johnson ’15 and Dr. Susan Vowels

Darius Johnson ’15 and Dr. Susan Vowels

When a student and his professors believe service is at the heart of learning, their community benefits.

Purpose Discovered.

Johnson & Vowels

Darius Johnson ’15, Regional Director, ACE Mentor Program of America Constance F. & Carl W. Ferris

Associate Professor Emerita Susan Vowels  

Darius Johnson

It was fall semester, 2011. Darius Johnson was a first-year student on a mission. Raised with a strong sense of values from a loving, tight-knit, and generous family, Darius made a vow to make the most of his recently awarded Vincent Hynson Scholarship. The four-year scholarship recognizes an exceptional student from Kent County, honoring the memory of its namesake, a Washington College graduate who led an exemplary life as a teacher, coach, pastor and leader in the Kent County community. 

The Backstory

Darius: When I received the scholarship, I told myself that I would affirm its value and my own values by prioritizing efforts to give back to the communities I care about. Washington College fostered my interest in community service by allowing me to get an exceptional education in the community where I was raised and have deep roots.  

My deep connection to strong communities extended to my community of professors. Dr. Michael Harvey, a mentor, friend and advisor for my major, taught chess to me at our church when I was in the seventh grade. Dr. Tsai Hui-Ju, who taught financial analysis and investment, and Dr. Lansing Williams, my accounting professor, both pushed me hard and in a good way. Dr. Joseph Bauer was an amazing entrepreneur professor. Everything about his class was awesome. It was a great department, with everyone in the mix and contributing to my education, but Dr. Susan Vowels had the biggest influence on me. She’s the one I most credit for jumpstarting my career trajectory. The entire Department of Business Management rallied around me, but Dr. Vowels’ business analytics class was instrumental in helping me score my first job.  

Being in Chestertown reinforced my community-mindedness because my professors were entrenched in the community as well. They felt like family to me. They still do. I know I wouldn’t have gotten that experience and my diploma anywhere else.  

Dr. Vowels: Whenever students are learning here, the work must be grounded in a purpose. I made a point of inviting alums to class so my students could understand how the skills they learn can be applied to a career. The textbook is only a starting point. I wanted my students to be able to take their knowledge and use it to find their way, find their place and help prepare them for a lifetime of professional contribution and enjoyment. It’s a testament to the strength of our alumni that they are so engaged with current student success.  

As a student, Darius was serious, very focused and with a work ethic and love for labor he learned from his parents. He was intentional about absorbing all the opportunities Washington College has to offer. In addition to courses in his business management major, he took computer science, finite math and, yes, analytics. He was wonderfully prepared for that first job. Darius is an excellent example of a student who made the most of every opportunity offered by undergraduate study of business in the context of a liberal arts environment.  

As a graduate, I think Darius is still on a mission to keep learning, to keep making connections, to keep making himself more valuable to be someone who can help others.  

As part of its 40th anniversary , the Business Management Dept. is proud to feature the stories of star alumni and the professors who inspired them. The year-long celebration will culminate in a Fall gala.