If Clemson University has seeped into anyone’s bones, it’s Beth Anne Johnson.
Johnson arrived on campus as a first-year undergraduate from Chapin in 2009 and never left. She now holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson and serves as associate director of Clemson’s WISE program.
Her mother and father are Clemson graduates, and so is her husband. Her grandmother grew up in the area, and her great grandparents served cadets in the dining hall when Clemson was an all male, military school.
With those solid-orange bona fides as a foundation, she is taking her Clemson experience nationwide. Johnson on July 1 began serving a one-year term as president of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).
She will be helping guide an educational nonprofit that is “the nation’s first network dedicated to advancing cultures of inclusion and diversity in engineering higher education and workplaces,” according to its website.
Johnson said that as president, she plans to start a podcast, find new ways to support working women and continue holding quarterly meetings with women-in-engineering directors to share best practices.
She began her term just a few weeks after WEPAN announced that she won its Women in Engineering Champion Award. The honor recognizes Johnson’s volunteer contributions to STEM education at the primary, secondary, or collegiate levels.
Her award was among 23 that WEPAN bestowed to leaders and programs across the country. Winners also included WISE itself and Johnson’s supervisor, Serita Acker, executive director of PEER & WISE.
They received their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“It was a tremendous honor to share the stage with so many trailblazing women,” Johnson said.
WISE, the organization that Johnson leads, stands for Women In Science and Engineering. In the program, first-year female students are paired with upperclassmen who serve as mentors. The upperclassmen help the first-year students make the adjustment from high school to the rigors of college life, helping keep them on track to graduation.
“My greatest source of satisfaction is the coaching we get to do with students and helping them figure out that next right thing,” Johnson said.
Among those students is Maddy Counts, a rising senior in mechanical engineering who joined WISE as a mentee in her freshman year and later became a mentor in the program. Counts said she was recently joking with a friend about not knowing how they were going to make it through the summer without their weekly meetings with Johnson.
“Those were fantastic because no matter what was going on, I would leave feeling encouraged and having a positive outlook that there were things I could do to improve whatever situation I was in,” Counts said. “If things were going well, she was there to support us and celebrate.”
Johnson became a member of WEPAN in 2019 after joining WISE. She was elected president in 2020 and last year served as president-elect. After her term as president is over, Johnson will serve a one-year term as past president.
As an undergraduate, Johnson had a double major in performing arts music and English literature. She graduated in 2013 and later went on to get her master’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management.
Prior to joining WISE, Johnson served as a staff advisor in Clemson’s Department of Performing Arts and as stewardship coordinator for the Clemson University Foundation, a job that brought her into contact with Michael LeMahieu, who was then director of the Pearce Center for Professional Communication.
LeMahieu said Johnson possesses natural leadership ability and the ability to immerse herself in the details of her work, while always keeping an eye on the larger context.
“The word ‘champion’ is in the name of the award, and that’s great because she is a real champion for students in her care,” said LeMahieu, who is now associate dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.
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