By GWEN HATCHER
Bowling Green High School
Life became challenging for Aniya Johnson in the eighth grade when her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“I’m not gonna lie, I was scared,” said Johnson, now 16 and a rising senior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville.
Johnson had been in this position before — she had previously seen a grandmother and grandfather die, one of them from cancer.
“I was honestly just thinking, ‘I hope she doesn’t die,’” Johnson said.
“I hoped one day that when I came home from school I didn’t get news that she had passed away.”
Despite the challenge of these events, Johnson applied to go to duPont Manual.
Her mother, now cancer free, was a big inspiration.
“She was always like, ‘Just go for it, just go for it, you never know,’” Johnson said. “I also looked up to people who came from my city and made it big, like Jennifer Lawrence and Diane Sawyer.”
With all of the inspiration from her mother, teachers and even local Louisville celebrities, Johnson was accepted into duPont Manual’s magnet for journalism and communications.
“I just always doubted myself,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t believe it when I got in.”
Attending the magnet, Johnson said, sets her up for success.
“The environment is very different from any other high school in my county,” Johnson said. “The teachers are very passionate about what they teach, and there’s always a place for everyone at duPont Manual.”
Johnson wasn’t completely sure what she wanted to pursue as a career before being accepted to the school. Now, after attending duPont Manual for three years, the school has inspired her to pursue a career in journalism. Johnson looks forward to participating in internships, working with local news organizations and even becoming a freelance writer.
Johnson has fond memories for an earlier passion for theater. She started in theater in third grade, ultimately setting up a path for her interest in the arts.
“I was 7 or 8 years old when we would all do theatre for about an hour a day,” Johnson said.
This early exposure to the world of acting opened Johnson’s eyes to her beloved hobby and simultaneously sparked early inspiration for her future dream of pursuing journalism.
In middle school, she got even more exposure to theater.
“We would do small performances each class,” Johnson said. “We did a bunch of improvisation, and I would even perform in front of 700 people, playing villains and stuff like that.”
“Pretending to be reporters with my friends in theater class in sixth grade was my first memory of journalism becoming an interest to me,” Johnson recalled.
Johnson’s art imitating life would become her life imitating that art, and set her on her career path.