When Longmont resident Julianne Johnson was 13 years old, she discovered she had cancer. While the disease and treatment impacted all parts of her life, she kept sight of her dreams of going to college and even found a scholarship to help her get there.
Johnson, now 18, is attending school at Morningside College in Iowa. She plans to one day become a music teacher.
Johnson didn’t always want to be a teacher, but she knew music was a part of her future. She graduated from Silver Creek High School last year. Before leaving she was inspired by teachers Bryon Booher — social studies teacher — and Bill Legg — a band director and music teacher.
Johnson became an interactive student assistant for Booher. This experience allowed her to plan a few lessons for other students and teach some classes.
“He (Booher) and Mr. Legg had such a positive impact on my life that I really wanted to be able to do that for other kids as well. I ended up picking music because I love it so much. It is one of those things that if I wasn’t doing it, I think I would physically be in pain,” Johnson said.
During her cancer treatments, Johnson turned to music to distract her from pain, anxiety and stress.
“I remember quite well the first time I went in for an infusion … I put in my headphones and I turned on ‘I Will Survive.’ I thought I was really funny and it was a good little motivator even if it was a little cheesy,” Johnson said adding that her music choice changed with her mood.
Cancer treatments caused a financial burden to Johnson’s family. When she decided she was going to college, it was important that she find as much scholarship funds as possible to relieve the financial burden from her future.
Johnson discovered the Northwestern Mutual Foundation Childhood Cancer Survivor Scholarship.
Johnson was awarded a $5,000 renewable scholarship for a total of $10,000. She said this money helps her focus on the really important things such as school and her continued medical care.
While Johnson is in remission, she still travels back to Colorado to check in with her healthcare team on a regular basis.
The scholarship is currently open to new applicants until Feb. 1.