Writing Samples

Your Purpose Is Relevant  

By Cierra Johnson

7 June 2017

Have you ever had a clear understanding of what your gifts, skills, and talents were, but as a result of seeing others successfully striving in their purpose, you began to question the value of your gifts?  If so, did feelings of discouragement, anxiety, fear, and even jealousy begin to consume your mind?  After you ponder those questions, take a moment to shift your focus from what their gift is, and think about what makes your gift so special.  Though your feelings of inadequacy are not uncommon, you must realize that your purpose is needed, you must courageously pursue your gift, and you must past the test of discouragement.

Young adults between the ages of 18-25 often wonder, “How am I going to successfully achieve my goals and dreams.  It seems as if those surrounding me are so far ahead – does this mean my gift(s) are less relevant?”  Those negative thoughts often enter into a person’s mind once they have lost sight of their purpose.  The success of others does not mean that your gift is any less valuable.  The truth is that it is needed far beyond what you are able to imagine.  The why of our purpose serves as motivation to re-focus our attention, time, and energy from the path of others onto our own.

A helpful tool to obtaining courage is to affirm boldness over yourself.  Believe and declare you have the courage to successfully live out your passions.  Moreover, wake up with the mindset of, “Today, someone needs what only I am able to offer.  The value of my work is not determined by the amount of Instagram likes I receive, retweets on Twitter, or Facebook comments.  The value of my gift is determined by my identity in Christ, and I will not stand in my own way!”  As you get in the habit of affirming a healthy mindset over yourself, you are sure to face the test of discouragement, and you and God WILL tackle this together!

Pastor Bishop Dale C. Bronner once said, “Each vision must past the test of discouragement.”  When discouraging thoughts enter your mind, quickly remind yourself that the disappointing experience has already worked for your favor.  There are a few things suggested as you push past discouragement.  First, be mindful of what you speak.  Do not say things such as, “It was a waste of my time to try,” or, “I am not good enough.”  Such words quickly become beliefs, and those beliefs will affect your actions.  Speak words of positivity such as, “I am still destined for greatness, and better opportunities are ahead of me!” or, “I am equipped in strength and diligence!”  I would also suggest being vulnerable to someone you trust about your feelings.  Much of our healing is found in others.  They will be able to encourage you through the moments you experience self-doubt.

If you do not quickly re-focus your mind on becoming who you were created to be – an individual of excellence, awesomeness, and courage, countless opportunities will be missed.  There are many opportunities that were designed for you.  The moment we are not truly being faithful and obedient to our purpose is the very moment we begin to compare ourselves to others and miss out on the beauty of our path.  Never welcome self-doubt, anxiety, or jealousy of others, because no one can carry out your dreams quite like you can!

Relax. The Path To Success Is A Process

By Cierra Johnson

12 June 2017

The purpose of this article is to encourage millennials to remain focused on the growth of their own path instead of comparing their progress to others.

The famous saying, “Direction is more important than speed,” serves as a reminder to appreciate progress.  Before you read any further, please take a moment to reflect on what those six words remind you of in your own life.  Now, ask yourself why you focus on the speed of your journey rather than the actual direction of it.  There are various aspects of life that may cause you to become discouraged about how you will achieve success, but if you remain focused on your purpose and growth, your destiny will come to pass.  Social media, anticipating the end result, the desire to be well-known shine, and life’s unexpected circumstances have caused many millennials to compare their state of success to others.

  1. Social Media Discouragement

An envious feeling may creep up in your bones as you have just had a long week of financial struggle, and you see a friend on Instagram thanking God for blessing her with a surprise check.  Or, maybe, you just found out that you won’t have enough funds to attend another year of college, and you see someone posting his new scholarship on Twitter.  Though social media is an excellent tool for branding and networking, it is also a playground for the ‘comparison game.’  Many millennials state that the content shared on social media (fancy cars, mansions, married couples, etc.) causes them to feel behind in life.  Though those things seem appealing, they, too, have to endure the process of reaching success.  The comparison game is often played without understanding process.  If you catch yourself comparing your journey to the journey of others, here are a few helpful suggestions: Spend fewer time on social media and more time building yourself up, speak affirmations over yourself daily, and pray that God will help you focus on your path.

  1. Anticipating The End Result

Before you are there, you must be here.  Excitement about the end result is not an uncommon feeling, however, it is wise to seek patience and focus during the process of achieving your goals.  Sometimes, you may have been so focused on the outcome that you miss the joy of the journey.  Although the process of reaching your dreams, goals, and aspirations will come with a bit of pain, imagine the amount of gratitude you will feel once you have achieved the success you wanted.  It is the effort, dedication, passion, and commitment that allows the end result to be remarkable. “Nothing worth having comes easy, and nothing that comes easy is worth having.”

  1. The Desire To Be Well-Known

Many have heard the famous saying, “What is for you is for you, and that cannot be taken away.  What is for them is for them, and that cannot be taken away.”  Many individuals are more focused on wanting to be well-known rather than increasing the excellence of their craft.  It is important to maintain a humble spirit in the midst of reaching the success you desire, because praise can easily become one’s validation.  Moreover, remind yourself that your identity is not found in the amount of likes, comment, or views you receive, but instead, it is found in your identity with Christ.  The world needs what only you are able to offer.  Therefore, it is time to get still, relax, and realize that your journey is a process!

CLARK ATLANTA UNIVERSITY STUDY ABROAD TRIP IN PARIS

By: Cierra Johnson

Date: March 31, 2017

The Panther Newspaper

Paris Photo 2

19 CAU students and one Morehouse student anxiously prepared for a study abroad trip in Paris, France which lasted approximately one week.  The trip was coordinated by CAU film professor, Apryl Lundy, and international affairs as it cost $1750.

As students enjoyed exploring various parts of the country, they also focused on the sole purpose of the trip – to gain insight on the lack of back representation there is in French film.  Karrington Ballenger, a junior and mass media arts major stated, “The trip made me realize the power I have as a film maker.  I am positive that this trip will forever influence the type of films I write and produce.”

Students had the opportunity to visit various sites such as the Louvre Museum – the home of the famous Mona Lisa picture, Musee d’ Orsay, a famous museum that consist of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and a few other historic places.  They were also able to explore the subways as their means of transportation and learn about the history of slaves during the Black Paris walking tour.

Students expressed their appreciation for a chance to learn more about the history of African Americans as they bonded with their peers and professors.  Although they enjoyed themselves, some of them stated that they were prepared to come back to school and share the knowledge they learned in Paris with other students at CAU.

Professor Apryl Lundy shared the purpose and her overall thoughts of the trip:  “I thought it was a successful trip, and it exceeded my expectations.  I know that it was life-changing for all 20 students – not just in terms of traveling, but in terms of research and production. Some students were not mass media arts majors, and that added an extra layer of excitement to them.  My goal was to expose African American students to a distinct experience outside of the U.S. and show them how representations of people are different.  The lack of roles of black people not only in the U.S. but in other countries – it impacts young people and how they see themselves.  There is an identity crisis with black people in French media; no one is trying to deal with it.  My goal was to introduce the racial and social issues to the students and allow them to speak with those that have experienced it.  The students were overwhelmed.  It was an awesome, eye-opening and life-changing experience.”

Her Campus CAU Profile Interview – Darion Weatherspoon

By: Cierra C. Johnson

Name: Darion Weatherspoon

Major: Fashion

Classification: Junior

City/Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada Social Media Handles: @_theRealSpoon (IG/Twitter)

Expected Publishing Date: Monday, April 17, 2017

Darion Weatherspoon's Headshot

Darion Weatherspoon is the man with a master plan!  His great fashion sense, eagerness to live each day with passion and purpose, and his love for others is the reason he strives for success.  During our interview, Weatherspoon discusses his experience as a Vegas native with a love for fashion, his post-graduation plans, his non-profit organization “The Silent Cry Foundation”, and the importance of being yourself.  Many of us have dreams, but how many of us are truly pursuing them?  Take a look at Darion’s story, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to start moving!

 

Me: Darion!  How have you been lately?

Him: BUSY, class work, football, this upcoming fashion show has me stretched out.

Me: You are preparing to go into your SENIOR YEAR of college, are you excited?! Nervous? Worried?

Him: I’m Anxious because everything I have dreamed of is becoming a reality; getting my degree, excelling in tailoring, and hopefully winning a championship ring in college.

Me:  That sounds amazing.  I am proud of you.  You made quite a move from Vegas to Atlanta to attend college.  What was the transition like for you? And why did you choose the illustrious Clark Atlanta University?

Him: Clark Atlanta gave me everything I was looking for in a school. I always wanted to move away from home and grow with out the reach of my mom. I wanted to go to down south, HBCU, in a major city, study fashion, and play football Clark Atlanta gave me all of that.

Me: What inspired you to choose Fashion as your major?

Him: Since I was a small boy, I loved suits.  I loved to dress nice and wear bowties, watches, etc., so when I came into my junior year in high school, I told myself I want to do something that will make me happy for the rest of my life.

Me: How does the fashion in Vegas compare to the fashion in Atlanta?

Him: Las Vegas fashion is a lot more relaxed than Atlanta, I blame the weather. Wearing a suit in 110 degrees isn’t something people practice often.

Me: When you came to college, did you feel comfortable dressing like yourself, or did you feel any pressure to conform to how those around you dressed?

Him: All my life I “dressed different”, but I prefer to have style.  I tell people all the time I rather have style than fashion. Fashion cost money and everyone can get to it, style is the way you live and express yourself. I don’t want SWAG because I define SWAG as Stuff We All Got; why look like the person next to you.

Me: Tell about some fashion no-no’s you have if any.

Him: Gentleman get your clothing ALTERED, just because it fits snug to the body doesn’t mean its tailored it just means it’s too small.  Clothing should not be Asexual, men wear menswear and the ladies dress as ladies

Me: Do you hope to have your own clothing line someday?

Him: Most definitely.  I wouldn’t describe it as a “line” but I want my own tailor shop where I’ll be 100% Bespoke menswear

Me:  It can be a bit challenging balancing various activities while maintaining good grades, and focusing on our personal craft.  You also serve as a student athlete!  How do you balance each?

Him: Making a plan for the day and sticking to it, my days start at 4:30 AM and ends at 1:15 AM so my goal every day is to make every single second count.

Me:  That is a great mindset to have.  Would you say that tailoring is a gift you have?

Him: It’s a gift I am happily developing. As a Tailors apprentice there is A LOT for me to learn.

Me: How did you become a tailor apprentice for the International Tailors Association?

Him: The shop that I apprentice at is a member of the international tailors association, and with me coming in to learn, the shop owner told me that as I develop, I will someday be able to officially call myself a master tailor and have proof.

Me: How has that experience benefited your personal and academic growth as a fashion major?

Him: It holds me to an even higher standard. I didn’t get into this to be good, I got into tailoring because I want to be the best and going through this time in my life is pushing me to go even harder.

Me:  Tell me a little about the Silent Cry Foundation and the inspiration behind creating it.

Him: The Silent cry foundation is a Non-Profit Organization I founded in the winter of 2011 with the Spiritual guidance of Rev. Charles McCall that stresses teen suicide prevention, counseling, and life development.  What inspired me to find it was my own personal depression that I fought during high school and throughout life, and as I fought through it I saw it as a duty to bring someone out of the dark and see the great light we have in front of us.

Me: Tell me about a moment you’ve had during your experience with the Silent Cry Foundation that caused you to realize God is using your journey to better the journey of others.

Him: Well due to legal confidentiality, I can’t get into much details, but I’ve talked someone out suicide while I myself was in a dark place and it made me realize even in the darkest time EVERYTHING falls into place, and it’s not our job to figure it out.

Me: What have you learned about yourself and others since the start of this foundation?

Him: I found that as people we are broken, but no matter how broken we are, smile. At the end of us crying, complaining, and being angry, the issue is still there, and the same energy used to go through all of that could have been used to fix what is breaking us; BUT ONLY THE THINGS IN OUR CONTROL

Me: What vision do you have for the Silent Cry Foundation within the next five years?

Him: I turned over all operations to my CO-Founder while in college but within the next five years I’d love to see the Foundation be a major presence in every Las Vegas teenager.

Me: What advice would you give to individuals that are also interested in starting their own business?

Him: Have a Goal and a PLAN. A goal without a plan is a wish. If you can’t answer who, what, when, where, why and how in detail you don’t need to start yet.

Me: Do you plan to move back to Vegas upon graduation to pursue your field of study, fashion?  Or do you hope to remain in Atlanta?

Him: Upon graduation I plan to return to Las Vegas and work in the shop I am a apprentice for.

Me: If a beneficial job opportunity is offered to elsewhere, would you be open to taking it?

Him: Always look for the next move, never sit still; that’s the only way I can answer that.

Me: What advice would you give to individuals that want to dress more fashionable?

Him: Never pay retail. Retail means someone else can look the exact same as you. Thrift stores and custom is the best way to enhance your style.

Me: What is a quote you live by?

Him: “Remain a Gentleman at ALL TIMES.”

Me: What do you know God’s purpose for you to be?

Him: To not question him, do has he says, do right to people, and in everything I do give him all the credit and praise, and under any situation bow my head.

Me:  Thank you so much for sharing your passions and advice with our viewers.  You are certain to inspire many individuals Darion!

Thank you for learning more about Darion Weatherspoon!  Please look out for more HC interviews.  You could be next! 🙂

The Incredibles – Scenes Seen Through My Spiritual Eyes

By: Cierra C. Johnson

Date: April 13, 2017

https://cierrajohnsonwrites.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/the-incredibles-movie-scenes-seen-through-spiritual-eyes/

The Incredibles Movie Pic

Many individuals in my generation grew up watching Disney and Pixar movies, but very few of us re-watch those movies once we’re older to gain the brilliant, life-changing lessons portrayed in the films.  The Incredibles is a film based on a family of four – The Father (Mr. Incredible), the mother (Mrs. Incredible), their daughter (Violet), and their son (Dash) – whom are born with super powers.  As the movie begins, Mr. Incredible participates in an interview where he discusses how his power (gift) causes him to work hard as he feels responsible for the world’s saving.  Society shamed the Incredibles for their powers, so Mr. and Mrs. Incredible saw it best to conform to the world’s standard of average living.  Once a villain known as “Syndrome” attempts to destroy the Incredibles, the family is forced to push past doubt and concern of the world’s opinion, and embrace their powers once again.  As I recently watched this film, I recognized powerful messages that I did not perceive when I watched the film as a child.  Please pay close attention to the scene below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsuTgE9ttHs

This scene is great representation of three things:

1.)    The refusal to use our God-given gifts when instructed to do so can cause great damage to ourselves and others.

Did you notice how fearful Violet become once she was told to use her power NOW?  How many times does God call us to use the gift that He has given to us, but we refuse to obey because we believe we aren’t ready and could potentially fail?  Her mother, whom I clearly viewed as God in the film, knew that she would be able to perform the task successfully, but Violet did not believe in the gift herself.  When God gives us an assignment, we are to obey, as He always sees the big picture even when we cannot.

2.)    The enemy uses our past mistakes against us to make us feel hopeless and powerless.  The villain, Syndrome, tried to destroy Mr. Incredible, because Mr. Incredible rejected Syndrome one day as he tried to help him save the world.  As Mr. Incredible began to use his powers again after years of hiding, Syndrome attempted to attack Mr. Incredible by reminding him of his mistake.  During this scene, you may have noticed how discouraged and helpless Mr. Incredible felt as he begged Syndrome to stop his attacks, when all the while God was in total control of the situation.  Mr. Incredible lost hope, and believed that his faith belonged in the enemy.

3.)    God’s grace IS sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Although Violet failed to use her power (gift) as she was instructed, her mother was still able to save them when the enemy got close enough to blow up the plane.  In the end, Violet was given another chance to use her power, and she did without a pinch of doubt.  The family was able to save Mr. Incredible as well as many others.

4.)    Trying to be like someone else will only result in failure.

Syndrome spent his entire life trying to be just like Mr. Incredible as he missed out on the great qualities about himself.  As a result, he turned bitter, and ended up living a meaningless life.  Although he wasn’t designed to be physically strong like Mr. Incredible, flexible like Mrs. Incredible, create orbits like Violet could or run fast like Dash could, God still designed him in a unique manner.

 

Moral of the movie:

You never know who or what God is trying to save through YOUR gift.  If you choose to spend your life conforming to average when you were created to be unique and excellent, you may end up living a meaningless life.  Be who YOU were called to be!

Boosting One’s Confidence

By Cierra Johnson

Posted Feb 08 2016 – 06:00am

Tagged: Confidence, Compliments, Love, Sisterhood

http://www.hercampus.com/school/cau/boosting-one-s-confidence

(My very first published article)

Confidence

If you are anything like me, your confidence is instantly lifted when someone gives you a simple compliment such as, “I love your hair!”, “Your bag is so cute!”, or, “You look stunning in that dress!”  After receiving a compliment, the average person goes about their day feeling better about themselves.  Many times, instead of telling people what we admire about them, we compliment them in our heads! But it is much more beneficial for you and others if you tell them what it is that you admire about them.  Compliments should be given daily because it could uplift someone’s confidence, lighten up their mood, spark a friendship and/or connection, or even inspire them to compliment others.

Seeing a glow on someone’s face as they give us a kind compliment makes us feel great inside.  Some ladies might have days where they are in a rush to get to their destination and did not spend an appropriate amount of time to fix their hair or makeup as they wished, but a simple compliment such as, “Your natural look is beautiful,” could make her feel beautiful inside regardless of how “unattractive” she had been feeling.  As I can recall, there have been PLENTY of days where I threw on a hat and instead of wearing my contacts I wore glasses since I developed bags under my eyes from not getting enough sleep the previous night. And when someone told me, “You look very pretty,” I thought to myself, “Hmm… maybe I do not look bad after all!” Also, a compliment could uplift someone’s mood.  Whether someone looks happy, sad, confident, or depressed, you never truly know what they are feeling, therefore, a compliment could be the key to a great day for them!

Complimenting someone could also lead to a friendship.  If the two of you run into each other again, then they will remember how kind you were to them and they may start a conversation with you.  Looking back, I realize that many of my closest friendships began with a compliment. Don’t get it twisted, compliments do not only have to be about physical appearance.  You could compliment a classmate’s project presentation, someone’s essay, or even a dish someone has prepared.  The people you compliment will never forget how kind you were to them, and they will surely remember you the next time you cross paths!

Compliments make people feel good about themselves inside, and as the famous Maya Angelou quote states, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Gates Millennium Scholarship Essay #3

By: Cierra Johnson

January 2014

Below is a writing sample from my Gates Millennium Scholarship application.  Although I was accepted into the semi-finalist round of candidates, I was not accepted as a finalist.   

Question: Briefly describe a situation in which you felt that you or others were treated unfairly or were not given an opportunity you felt deserved.  Why do you think this happened? How did you respond? Did the situation improve as a result of your response?

Everything in life is not “fair”.   However, as long as you remain true to yourself and not let an unfair situation negatively affect your character, you will always come out a winner.  I learned that although you may carry the same skills and talent similar to those around you, equal opportunity will not always be given.  There were moments I wanted to give in and stop trying to convince others of how badly I wanted an opportunity.  However, I choose not to give up because if I do, I would never know my true potential.

When I made the Varsity Volleyball Team my junior year of high school, the first thing that came to mind was, “Yes! I finally earned this spot on varsity and I am ready to let my light shine once I step out on the court!”  It was such an overwhelming feeling that I posted the great news on my blogs and called everyone who knew about my tryouts.  I felt like I was finally good enough to play volleyball on a more challenging level.  I also believed that all of the hard work and practice that went towards making a good impression for my coaches paid off.  I was one of the select few that practiced through Atlanta Boom on the weekends as a Junior Varsity player and was sure to make an impression as a Varsity player.  I was confident my coaches selected me to be on the Varsity team because they saw improvement from my prior two years of playing junior varsity volleyball.  However, it did not take long before I began to question myself as to why I was really on the team, if I were truly good enough, and if I had the skills to compete against other players.

After the first few matches, it dawned on me that I had not played in a game.  It did not bother me at first that I had not been chosen to play, but after a while I felt like my only contribution to the team was coming to practice and cheering my teammates on at the games.  I was very timid and not outspoken; therefore, I was afraid to ask my coaches why I had not been placed in a game half-way through the season.  My mother knew that I did not know how to approach my coaches and ask them myself.  Therefore, she decided to have a one-on-one with my coaches.  All three of my coaches explained to me what my weaknesses and strengths were and what areas they wanted me to improve upon before placing me in a game.  They pointed out that during practice, I was not as aggressive as the other teammates who do receive chances to play and that I also needed to stop being timid in order to “earn” a chance to play.  Hearing my coaches’ feedback was not surprising because deep down I knew that being timid was something I needed to address.  Even though I felt a tad bit discouraged and embarrassed, I did not take what my coaches told me in a negative way.  Instead, I told myself, “Cierra, tomorrow at practice, you are going to walk in that gym and you will not hold back anything.  You are going to be aggressive on the court and show your coaches that you DO deserve the opportunity to play in the upcoming games.”

When it was time for the next match, my coach called me over and said, “Cierra…are you ready?”  I felt excited but nervous at the same time because I did not want to make a mistake and feel as if my coach would regret putting me in the game.  “Yes”, I responded, “I am ready.”  As soon as I got on the court and the ball came my way, I immediately messed up by passing the ball in the opposite direction of the target.  My teammate stomped her feet, looked at my coach and yelled, “Why would you put her in the game?!”  My coach immediately sat me back down onto the bench and that was the last chance I was given to play.

At that moment, I had never felt more embarrassed, humiliated, and unworthy of being a part of the team.  We did lose the match that day, but some of my teammates were not the only ones who had an issue with my coaches deciding to put me and a few others in the game; the parents thought it was an issue too.  My coaches allowed a few of the teammates and their parents to constantly stay in their ear about who they felt deserved to play and who did not.

Despite the negative responses, this entire experience showed my strength in character.  I did not lash out at my coaches nor did I quit the team.  Instead, I remained true to myself by continuing to give my best in practice knowing that I may not have received another opportunity to play.  I still cheered on and uplifted my teammates until the season was over.  In the end, I rose from a situation where I felt defeated and unworthy of doing something that I was passionate about.  I was able to overcome an obstacle by not giving up and learning from my experience.  Although I chose not to play volleyball my senior year of High School, I did not feel as if I wasted my time during the prior years of playing.  I may not have been able to control the situation and its outcome, but I was able to control how I handled it.  And for this, my character will continue to conquer all.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Writing Samples

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s