August 06, 2018

“Century College changed the trajectory of my life,” notes Debbie Johnson (DJ) Hill, author, poet, photographer, artist, gallery owner, and Century College alum.  “I never would have imagined anything like this was possible.”  After graduating from Century College in 2014, DJ transferred to Hamline University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2017, earning her BFA degree.

Her educational journey began In 2010, a year before her youngest daughter would graduate from high school, and DJ wondered what to do next with her life.  She decided to return to college, get a degree and a job.  Her husband asked her to think in broader terms–about where her passion was, and not just about finding a job. Friends recommended Century College, which was close to her home at the time. 

Before she started taking credit classes, DJ took a class on college readiness with Stacey Wollschlager, learning about developing good study habits and handling assignments,   As she went along, she built on her successes, and followed her passion by taking writing and photography classes.  With the guidance of supportive Century College faculty such as Melissa Borman in the Art Department and Beth Mayer in English, she rediscovered her creativity.  She soaked up learning experiences like a sponge, wanting to know how to reach the next level with her photography and writing.  Her hard work resulted in the creation of greeting cards, writing for the College newspaper, and getting her articles and poetry published in magazines and journals.

“Century College gave me the confidence and courage to say, ‘I can do this thing,’” DJ remembers.  “Attending Century College was truly an exceptional experience.”

DJ offers this advice to prospective students–and to adult learners in particular, “Start small. Take one class, and build on your successes.  Don’t fear failure.  View everything as a learning experience.  Say “yes” to the first thing to get started, by taking a tour of the campus or meeting with a faculty member or advisor.  Just keep building on your successes and see how far you can go.” 

DJ has also added public speaking to her list of accomplishments.  She is a Tedx speaker, and spoke at Century College’s Commencement in May, 2018.   She and her husband relocated to Colorado, where they own DJ’s on Main, and work to support other artists. Her first collection of poetry, Homespun Mercies, will be published in September 2018.

“Nothing was an impossibility after Century College.  You can’t put a price on the school, faculty, and the amazing support you receive. They will push you to get to the level that you’re capable of,” DJ adds.