Johnson emphasizes importance of balancing academics, life experiences

By Madelyn Ostendorf

Lydia Johnson
Johnson is the spring 2024 convocation speaker.

When Lydia Johnson was in high school, she spent part of her summers on Iowa State University's campus for the state 4-H conference. During that time, she got to learn in lecture halls, sleep in dorms and build a network of friends on the campus she will graduate from this semester.

Johnson, graduating senior in agricultural communications, international agriculture and journalism, is the spring 2024 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Convocation speaker. 

Growing up on a Heritage farm in Bondurant, Iowa, Johnson had plenty of opportunities to see firsthand all the places agriculture could take her.  

She continued her agricultural exploration by jumping headfirst into clubs and organizations at Iowa State, including CALS Ambassadors, CALS Council, Student Government, Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow and the National Agri-Marketing Association.  

Johnson credits her positive experience on campus to the connections she has made along the way. Without the passion of her peers, advisors and teachers, she doubts her experience would have been the same.

“I have loved every second of my time here,” Johnson said. “It's been such a whirlwind, in a good way. From my friends to all the people who have invested in me, in every aspect. I think that's what really makes it such a good experience; so many people have chosen to pour their time and care into me.”

Johnson said she hopes her fellow graduates know that their unique experiences, both before and after Iowa State, are an important part of who they are and what they will bring to the world.

“Every experience you have shaped you into who you are,” Johnson said. “Everything from the people you meet to the classes you've taken. The good, the bad and the ugly. We have all been so fortunate to have Iowa State be part of our journey.”

Johnson said her best advice to underclassmen is to live a balanced life.

“It’s important to be a good sister, a good daughter, a good student, a good friend, a good employee but also to know how to balance all of that without toppling over,” she said. “Be calm, cool and collected and do it well.”

Nate Dobbels, academic advisor for agricultural education and studies, said Johnson was a one-of-a-kind student.

“She is caring, uplifting, respected by those around her and has shown true grit and perseverance during her time at Iowa State,” Dobbels said. “She leads with grace and humility and I could not be more honored to have been part of her journey over the years. The list of accolades, leadership accomplishments and academic achievements is vast and matched by few. I am sad to see this chapter of her life come to a close but so very excited to watch her journey ahead.”

After graduation, Johnson will embark on a study abroad trip to Japan and Thailand to learn about the pork industry. Once that trip concludes, she will head to Washington, D.C., where she has accepted a position with AgriPulse Communications.