Mother of 5 thriving as new Linfield student

Elizabeth Stoeger, Staff Writer

Mother of five and happily married for over 30 years, Melanie Johnson would be considered a “non-traditional” student here at Linfield.

Johnson met her (now) husband at the end of her freshman year. She told him she was not going to fall in love with him… they were married a year later.

She attended Lower Columbia College for a year, then transferred to Portland State for a quarter.

It was hard to balance being a new bride and go to school at the same time.

After having some health problems, she took a “thirty-year break.”

She didn’t think that she would be going back to school ever but she is one of those people who likes to finish what they have started.

Johnson’s husband works for the IT program here which gives her and her children tuition remission, which made it affordable for her.

Johnson and her husband had both lived in Longview Washington for all of their lives until they made the move to McMinnville, for her husband to take the IT job.

She said, “I am excited to finish what I started. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to do it.”

Johnson is a mass communication major currently taking two classes; colloquium and multimedia storytelling.

She accumulated some transfer credits from when she went to school years ago, she is technically at the end of her sophomore year.

She hopes to graduate in five years; “when I’m 60,” she said.

With her degree, she wants to “do something that will help people connect with services that will enrich their lives.”

She said that in some ways college is easier now than it was back then because she can use the internet on her phone to look something up if she doesn’t understand, “the internet is a huge, helpful tool.”

Johnson has five kids, 29, 26, 21, 14, and 12. She has three daughters and two sons, Johnson and her husband adopted her youngest three children.

She wasn’t able to afford private school for all of her kids so she has been homeschooling them, as she wants them to have a one-on-one relationship in the classroom.

When Johnson isn’t taking her classes here at Linfield she is preparing lesson plans for her eighth and sixth grader, and making sure that they are still getting a quality education.

Her kids and husband are excited and proud of her that she is continuing her education.

Her husband is proud of her and excited that she can have this opportunity. He has stepped up and helped with things around the house, which has been a tremendous help to Melanie. She is grateful for him and his support.

Though sometimes having children can make focusing on school difficult, Johnson said, “I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything.”

She is hoping that maybe her son will attend Linfield and that they might have a class together. She thinks that would be fun.

Overall, the experience hasn’t been too strange for her.

She said that the sexual consent course that all freshman are required to take was a little awkward. And at orientation, other parents would ask how old her student is, she said it was kind of embarrassing.

All of the professors have a professional student-professor relationship with her so it is not awkward for her.

She thinks at first it was awkward for the professors to have an “old” woman in class but they have gotten used to it.

Her favorite part of Linfield is the class sizes, she feels that the instructors really care, they really want to see students be successful.