Student Spotlight: Luke Johanni

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Luke Johanni has come to Ave Maria University in pursuit of bettering our world. As a first-year Psychology major, Luke has prepped for his undergraduate studies by taking dual-enrollment courses while in high school and ardently practicing his Catholic faith. Many on campus know Luke for his kind demeanor and heart for serving others. As a fencer for twelve years, Luke hopes to translate his dedication to the sport into his daily life. We were able to meet with Luke to hear all about how he intends to be a light in the world.

So Luke, why did you choose to attend Ave Maria University?

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I chose to come to Ave because I did a year of dual-enrollment at a community college, and was disheartened by the lack of faith in my coursework. While it was great to have a college education early on, as my courses were incredibly interesting and educational, I wanted to attend a school that focused on the whole person in a faith-based curriculum.

I want to go into counseling, so I thought studying Psychology at Ave Maria would enable me to help counsel people to the best of my ability. I believe a Catholic foundation in counseling will help me treat the person as a person, rather than just their illness. 

Why did you choose Psychology as your major?

Initially, I was thinking about majoring in either History or Theology, since I enjoy both of those subject areas and thought I could possibly be a teacher.

However, I realized how fulfilled I feel whenever I help others in deeply emotional ways, like discussing hard topics or being there for them when they need me. The sidewalk counseling I've done on a Catholic platform fueled by desire to go beyond the realm of teaching, and more into a channel through which I can be there for someone in need on a daily basis.

My passion for serving others in that way was something that motivated me to look outside of a teaching role and into a more direct approach. I think that the best way that I can serve people is by pursuing a career in counseling, so Psychology was the perfect major for my long term goals.

What would you say are your "core values"? How do they govern the way you live on a daily basis?

My values are deeply rooted in my Catholic faith and Church teaching. Outside of that, I believe that there is always more that I can do, as a person, to improve so that I can better serve others. I also always try to put myself in someone else's shoes, so to speak, so that I am able to understand them more. 

My values are always oriented around service, and I believe they will help me as a counselor in the future. I want to successful as a person, but not in a worldly sense - I measure my success on how well I am able to serve others, as equipped by my faith and the gifts given to me.

How did you develop these values, in conjunction with your faith?

I would say that my relationships with other people cultivated my ability to serve others. Additionally, I had a lot of time to learn and read about my faith since I was homeschooled.

I had a lot of opportunities to do service work as well, which resulted in my leading a youth group. Through doing those things, it really fostered a desire in me to know more and to do more in my faith, especially with my relationship with God and others. In that sense, it was through my experiences that I've grown deeper in my values and faith.

What are your plans after you graduate from AMU?

When I graduate, I want to working in the counseling field. Preferably, I'd like to work in a Catholic environment due to the success I've had in evangelizing others through sidewalk counseling and being a youth group leader.

Through those experiences, I've been blessed to have been able to discuss hard topics with many people. Essentially, I'd like to continue to help people as a counselor on a Catholic platform because it has enabled me to serve others and God fully.

Have any words of wisdom for incoming Ave student?

My biggest piece of advice is to keep a calendar! I have one on my phone and one in my dorm. I write down my class schedule, my work schedule, my assignments, and certain events so that I can keep track of what's going on in my life and on campus.

I often joke with my friends that if it didn't go on the calendar, consider it forgotten - and it's too true! College life is incredibly busy and demanding, so make sure that you keep a schedule to avoid any unnecessary stress. 

Describe your most rewarding college experience so far.

It's hard to pick! The education I've received here has been so rewarding, because the professors are so involved in the coursework. You can really tell how much they care about the material that they are teaching their class, so it makes me more engaged and motivated to do well.

Last semester, I participated in the Caberet and it was fabulous. It was awesome to put on a show with some of the best people for the school community.

What things are most important to you now that you're in college?

The first and foremost important thing to me has always been my faith. It comes before anything, and I always aim to deepen it in everything I do. After that comes my relationships with others and my education, as they each play a role in cultivating who I am.

Tell us what a day in your life looks like.

This semester has definitely been a crazy one so far! I'm overloading on classes, working three different jobs, and participating in campus clubs and activities. There really isn't a time where I'm not busy, but I enjoy it because it's all contributing to my quality of life.

Luke, what would you say are your three best qualities?

I'm very personable - I love talking to people and trying to understand their perspective, or where they are coming from. I would also say that I'm incredibly outgoing and I always seek to enjoy life. Finally, I'd say that I'm very devoted to the things I hold dear in my life. I work hard because of that sense of obligation I have towards things, and it helps keep me motivated to be the best I can be.