Student Stories: Joel Johnson

Joel Johnson


Major: Travel and Tourism

Joel Johnson loves to travel and wanted to incorporate it into his career.

“I wanted to work in a field that dealt with the knowledge of travel,” he said. “Anything from different destinations and languages to cultures and people interested me a lot. I completed a German American Partnership Program (GAPP) in high school, which served as my first exposure to traveling and experiencing different cultures. That also helped me choose to study tourism at College of DuPage.”

Johnson knew of COD’s excellent reputation and affordable tuition, which made it a smart choice. He enjoyed working with many of his professors, especially the German faculty.

“They helped me clarify my goals in both language learning and how I could apply myself in the real world with my foreign language skills,” he said.

One instructor, Bärbel Thoens-Masghati, told Johnson he would be a good fit for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) program, which offers scholarships to select students across the country to study and work in Germany.

“The combination of these aspects plus making new connections and living in Europe for a year were the reasons why I was interested and applied,” he said.

Johnson was selected for the program, and the experience left him wanting more. Having earned his Associate in Applied Science degree in Travel and Tourism, he wants to work in the U.S. and then return to Germany and finish his education. His career goal is to find a governmental or diplomatic position in Germany.

“While I started out studying tourism, I am ready to switch over to pursue International Relations in Europe,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to live, work and create a life in Germany and Europe.”

Johnson advises students that a community college education will lead to success without costing a fortune.

“COD helped me start my path, opened my eyes up to many opportunities and made me realize what I wanted to do in life,” he said. “There are many wonderful faculty who helped me get the CBYX scholarship to affordably live abroad for a year. I have made so many wonderful and unforgettable experiences and connections through the CBYX program, and I credit COD for helping me make this possible.”