By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Charles Johnson: From Senate to President

Charles Johnson.
(Photo courtesy of Lola Gallagher)
Charles Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Lola Gallagher)

The path to leadership can come in many forms, whether honed through multiple experiences or just out of a call to serve the community. For Charles Johnson, a junior in the business administration major and ASCWU presidential candidate, the calling came because he felt he could help. While he currently serves as Senate Speaker, Johnson feels that he can do more for CWU and believes that the presidency is key to helping facilitate these goals. 

The biggest thing that drew Johnson to positions of leadership was the community. “I’ve always had a deep care for the people that are around me and especially in my community,” Johnson said. “Seeing where there are areas for improvement that aren’t being met…and making sure that someone is advocating for those people.” Johnson added that this was what drove him to join the student senate as Senator of the college of business, which eventually led to his current position as Senate Speaker. 

After spending some time at CWU and getting to know campus, this drive to serve the community brought Johnson to the Student Senate, where he currently serves as Senate Speaker. In this position, Johnson has been able to facilitate many conversations in regard to improving things at CWU. “I’ve been making a lot of headway in the work that I’ve been doing and taking part in conversations around campus safety, worker safety, online class reform and making sure that student standards for their education are being met,” Johnson said. However, while progress is being made, Johnson feels that the best way he can continue to keep up the progress is via the position of ASCWU President. “ I do this not for the name of the position, not for the job title, but I do it because I have a deep-rooted care for the people in my community and a deep-rooted care for the students of Central.”

Many of the issues Johnson hopes to tackle as president are geared towards making sure students have the best learning environment they can, including the aforementioned campus safety and online class reform. However, Johnson also has eyes on other ongoing situations around CWU, such as the renovation of Black Hall, the establishment of a multicultural center, the rights of student workers and becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

“My heart truly lies with the students and with my community,” Johnson said. “I want to be able to be there for them and advocate for them the same way I’ve already been doing.” 

Johnson also mentions that he has other skills that are key to being a strong leader, such as a desire to stand up for others despite possible pushback. “I’m not afraid to tell administration when they’re wrong and that they’re not listening to students, and I’m not afraid to be the loudest student in a room full of faculty screaming at the top of my lungs for the needs of students,” Johnson said. 

Johnson also feels that the skills he’s learned in his major will serve him well in the presidency. “I’m taking a class right now called Principles and Management, where all we talk about in that class is how to be a leader, the different styles of management, how to work with your team, how to work with individual personalities,” Johnson said. He also states that he’s spent time cultivating skills such as budgeting, which is important to leading the charge on initiatives. “A lot of my skills that I’ve acquired as a business major have directly translated into my work because ASCWU, even though it’s student government and student advocacy, it still runs similarly to how a business would,” Johnson said. However, there is another perspective that Johnson has on leadership which may surprise some, as it’s geared towards restraint and knowing when to ask for help. “It’s also really important as a leader to be able to say [that] I’m not the most learned in this area, I don’t have that expertise on how to handle that,” Jonson said. He emphasizes that nobody is capable of having the best answer to everything, so he plans to surround himself with a strong team that can help him make informed choices and learn from them. 

In ten years time, with college long behind him, Johnson feels that one of his career paths could be in advertising, where he would work with companies on their campaigns. Alternatively, though, corporate law is another place he could see himself working. “I’ve always had an eye for business, and I’ve always had an interest in business and being in corporate America because I feel like there’s a lot of improvement that can be made there and a lot of corruption that needs to be solved,” Johnson said. In either case, Johnson knows that the business world is in his future, but he wants to make positive changes in that world, such as making it more consumer-friendly and improving the way they’re treated in the corporate landscape. Johnson is aware that such a thing is no simple task, but he’s unfettered by this. “I know I’m one small person, but I think that one person can make a lot of change,” Johnson said. 

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