Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

26-Year-Old Alumna Running for Congress in Pennsylvania

Recent Georgetown graduate and former White House adviser Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) announced her bid for the House of Representatives last October, just over three years after she graduated.

If elected, Johnson, 26, would be the youngest woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress and the first African-American woman to represent the 4th District. She is running in the Democratic primary against another Georgetown alumnus, U.S. Army veteran George Scott (SFS ’84). The winner will face incumbent Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who was re-elected in 2016 by a two-to-one margin.

Scott’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Johnson’s first exposure to politics began in her grandparents’ household. After growing up during the era of segregation and receiving limited education, her grandparents stressed the importance of participating in national politics. From the moment that she turned 18, Johnson felt an obligation to take an active role in politics.

SHAVONNIA CORBIN-JOHNSON/FACEBOOK Recent graduate Slavonia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) is running as a Democrat for Congress in the 4th District of Pennsylvania.

Although an interest in politics had been ingrained in her, Johnson said in interview with The Hoya that she was unsure of how to make politics a part of her future. It was not until Johnson attended Georgetown and pursued an internship with Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) during her sophomore year that her political career began to form.

“I never expected to go to college, so once I did end up going to college, and I did meet Senator Casey, it just took off from there,” Johnson said. “You actually got an in-depth experience rather than just doing the general administrative tasks.”

Following graduation, Johnson joined Casey’s office as a full-time senior staff assistant. After a year, Johnson received a phone call inviting her to a position in the administration of former President Barack Obama. She served as the assistant and adviser to then-director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan.

“Going from a foster house to the White House was something I never expected,” Johnson said. “You don’t really see that in your life when you’re sharing one bed with three different girls, and now, you’re the right hand to the guy in charge of $4.1 trillion.”

Johnson cites her time at the White House as an opportunity where she further developed her passion for the representation of all people, a value she developed during her work in Obama’s administration.

Johnson’s engagement with a diverse group of people began during her four years at Georgetown. She was involved with many cultural groups on campus, including some she did not identify with. Groups she was involved with include the Black Student Association, the Muslim Student Association and the Latino Society.

Her experiences allowed her to see past the judgments that she feels many people hold toward members of different ethnic groups, Johnson told The Hoya.

“One thing that I see in this world is that there’s a lot of fear of different types of people, but that fear is only fueled by ignorance,” Johnson said. “If you continue to be ignorant about people who don’t look like you, you’re going to always have that fear, and you’re going to perpetuate that fear for generations.”

Many of the initiatives that Johnson supports, such as improving and increasing the accessibility of government programs, stem from her personal experiences. A first-generation college student, Johnson grew up in a foster home until her grandparents were able to adopt her — thanks in part, according to Johnson, to Social Security.

“If my grandmother didn’t receive Social Security, she wouldn’t have been able to pay for me and raise me. I would still be living with my foster family,” Johnson said. “Just knowing how impactful government programs were for me, I want to make sure that people have access to them and that they’re better than they are now.”

Johnson hopes to represent the needs of her diverse constituency, according to Johnson’s campaign communication director, Christina Kauffman.

“The goal of her campaign is to be elected to the 4th congressional district so she can represent all people, pulling from her own experiences to shape policies and preserve opportunities for future generations,” Kauffman said.

Update (2/7): Read The Hoya’s interview with Corbin-Johnson’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Georgetown alumnus and army veteran George Scott.

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    Peter PetrovskyFeb 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Enough of this marshmallow fluff reporting. Why doesn’t The Hoya write an article about notorious alumnus Peter Strzok and his wife Melissa Hodgman? both Hoyas.