Trinity Fellows Spotlight Stephen Johnson

Meet Trinity Fellow Stephen Johnson (English '22)

Stephen Johnson was interviewed and featured in Englishyland, Marquette's Writing Society on February 8, 2022 where he shares his experience as a Trinity Fellows pursuing a graduate degree in English. 

         Johnson on First Day of School                 Johnson Photo Last Semester

          Stephen on First Day of Class                   Stephen's Last Semester, First Day

What brought you to graduate study at Marquette?

I was working at a nonprofit in the Twin Cities while I was looking at gradschool options. I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in English, but I also knew I didn’t want to leave my nonprofit work behind entirely. I did some research and found out about the Trinity Fellowship here at Marquette, and everything about it clicked with me. And when my wife and I came out here for a visit day, we were sold: the English MA program and the Trinity Fellowship seemed to combine everything I love about education, justice work, and the humanities into one. It took a couple tries to get into the Fellowship, but it was so worth the time and effort!

What are you working on these days?

Well, last semester I had the wonderful opportunity to tie together one of my personal favorite stories with my academic work for a final paper for Dr. Canavan. I wrote about depictions of trauma and the unique role of the player-character relationship in the 2020 video game, The Last of Us Part II. It was a lot of fun to dig into video game theory and write about something for which I care deeply. I’m now working on restructuring and polishing that paper up a bit to get it ready to submit for publication somewhere down the line. This is my first time preparing something for potential publication, and Dr. Canavan has been a great help!

How does your graduate education connect to your life?

I love being able to find and build connections between my nonprofit work and experiences and my humanities work. Dr. Angeli’s Public-Facing Humanities class last semester, along with my Trinity Fellowship classes and agency placement, have really pushed me to envision new ways of merging these two passions of mine.

Do you have a pet bunny and if so, discuss. Other pet talk is always welcome. Of course. 

No bunny, but we have, imho, the cutest dog ever. Her name is Ahsoka, and she is wonderful.

      Johnson Dog           Johnson Dog

If you are inclined: how have you been managing grad study during a pandemic?

It hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe that grace—for ourselves and for others—is foundational for making it through these seemingly never-ending days, weeks, and months. So I do my best to have good study rhythms, but I’ve also had ample opportunity to practice letting go of the need to be perfect and to do all things perfectly. Things that help me live in grace: walks along the lake, non-study time blocked out on the calendar every week, watching Joe Pera Talks with You, prayer and meditation, and group chats with friends.

What's next for you? What do you hope is next for you?

I try and hold the future loosely (especially these days), but my hope is to enter back into the nonprofit world in the Twin Cities with a new set of tools, resources, and awareness that will help me learn to help in the most effective ways I can. I’d love to do something involving public-facing humanities, but I’m not too clear on the specifics of what that might look like yet. A discernment project for this semester for sure!

What's something you recently discovered that you love and would like to recommend?

So I just recently started watching Joe Pera Talks With You, and it is my new favorite thing. I feel about this show like Joe Pera feels the first time he hears The Who. I’ve already re-watched most of the show multiple times, and it helps me re-center myself anytime I feel out of sorts.

From the jukebox:

This one is from Stephen to all of you... And here is what I found when I looked for the scene in Almost Famous when the main character hears Baba O'Riley by The Who for the first time. I didn't find that one, but I found another great musical moment.