Emma Kelsey – Staff Writer
This week’s Gustie of the Week is known for his enthusiasm, energy, dedication to his passions, and his wide array of talents. He is a part of the Gustavus choir, sings in G-sharp (an independent singing group on campus), works as a tutor in the Philosophy department, and leads worship for the Chaplain’s Office. Senior Eric Johnson is a proud Gustie who has certainly made his imprint on the Gustavus community.
Johnson’s interests led him to be a Political Science and Philosophy major. “I’ve always loved big, abstract, and theoretical ideas. Plus, the professors are incredibly accessible, engaging, and personable. I’ve grown so much as a critical thinker, writer, and person in all of these classes,” Johnson said.
One of Johnson’s past professors, Richard Leitch, an Associate Professor of Political Science, Environmental Studies, Japanese Studies, and Peace Studies here at Gustavus, speaks very highly of Johnson and all that he brings to the classroom. According to Leitch, it was Johnson’s enthusiasm, preparedness, engagement in the class, and willingness to share such good ideas that made him an excellent student. “What Eric produced for those courses was always exemplary, both relatively and absolutely,” Leitch said.
According to Leitch, Johnson displays great commitment and holds many different skills, describing him as a “multi-talented” person. “Eric had a terrific idea for a semester-long project for one of the classes. It was risky, but his commitment to it and the creativity and research tenacity that he applied to that assignment were remarkable,” Leitch said.
Similar sentiments can be drawn from the words Maggie Falenschek, Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries in the Chaplain’s Office here at Gustavus has to share about Johnson. “Eric is one of those people that you just know will do big things in the world. He has an energy and tenacity that can be felt by anyone he interacts with. When he says he’s going to do something, I have no doubts that he will– no matter how far-fetched it may seem at the time.” Falenschek said.
Falenschek knows Johnson through his work in the Chaplain’s office and his musical leadership for the Sunday Worship Community here on campus, but she has known Johnson since his high school years when he participated in the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics. Falenschek shares that it has been amazing to witness Johnson grow as a Gustie and a leader during his time here on the hill. “Eric has been a big part of growing the Sunday Worship Community and making sure there is an inclusive, justice focused, and science positive faith community on campus,” Falenschak said.
Johnson himself esteems the people and community of Gustavus. “It sure is true that the average Gustie is well-rounded, friendly, outgoing, fun, and driven. Given that these values are so important to me, it’s exciting and refreshing to be around so many other similar people.” Johnson said. He shares that after graduating Gustavus, he plans to go to law school–which means right now he is bogged down with applications.
Jodi Maas met Johnson in 2017 through the Gustavus Academy of Faith, Science, and Ethics Nobel event, and has many great things to say about this Gustie of the Week. “There is not just one thing that stands out, Eric is truly one of the best humans that I have met,” Maas said. She describes Johnson as resilient, comedic, intelligent, positive, realistic. “His presence can fill a room!” Maas said.
As a multifaceted Gustie, Johnson has found his niche in several different places here on campus and has made quite the impact on the Gustavus community. It seems to be the general consensus among those who know him that whether it’s through his commitment to student orgs or his intelligence as a student, Johnson has great traits and skills that will make a positive difference in the world.