Michael Johnson has seen his share of hurricanes, ice and windstorms, working day or night to restore power to communities in eight states as a longtime employee of Edgecombe-Martin EMC.
That resiliency has helped push him toward another goal: completing his bachelor’s degree in engineering at age 50.
He previously attended community colleges in Nash, Edgecombe and Pitt counties, and enrolled at East Carolina University in 2012 to further his education. He will graduate in December.
“If a person has a goal in life, it’s never too late to achieve it. Determination will take you places that you never thought were achievable,” Johnson said.
He said he’s really liked his time at ECU because of the small class sizes.
As a husband and father of three, he says his family has tolerated the many times he had to study when everyone else was going places and doing fun things.
He has been with Edgecombe-Martin EMC for 28 years, first as a groundsman, then lineman, and now vice president of engineering and operations. While working full-time, he travels back and forth to Greenville for classes a few days a week.
“It’s hard,” he joked. “My company has worked with me on it and they’ve made sure I got what I needed for my education and hopefully I’m paying them back.”
During Hurricane Matthew last fall, Johnson traveled to numerous counties in North Carolina to help restore power. Edgecombe-Martin’s crews, including Johnson, have been in eight states to restore power after hurricanes and ice storms.
“It’s really nice,” he explained about helping people get their power restored. “The people appreciate you so much. It’s gratifying.”
Johnson will be completing his senior capstone this fall. The assigned project for the class will be to create a wakeboard that allows the user to be able to take their feet out of the foot straps without having to reach down and do it with their hands.
After graduation he plans to take the Professional Engineering exam, work approximately 10 more years and retire. He says he might even do part-time consulting after retirement.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? I was intimidated the first year until I learned that even though I am older than everyone in my class, the traditional students struggle with the same issues as me.
What advice do you have for other students? Persevere no matter how hard it gets.
Written by: Bre Lewis
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
College: College of Engineering and Technology
Major: Engineering with a concentration in electrical engineering
Hometown: Speed, North Carolina
Hobbies & Interests: Weightlifting and drag racing
Favorite place to eat: Texas Roadhouse
Favorite Movie: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Favorite website: Jegs.com
Favorite place on campus: The bench outside of Bate
Favorite hangout: In the shop, working on my race car
Favorite class: Power Systems
Favorite TV show: Tucker Carlson
Favorite band/musician: Stevie Ray Vaughn
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Castles
The one thing you cannot live without: God
Dream Job: I have been working my dream job for 28 years at Edgecombe-Martin EMC
Role model: My dad
Your words to live by: Treat people as you want to be treated.