I Spy: Judy Johns, devoted to CCU and its students
Most folks at Coastal Carolina University know that Judy Johns works in the photography department, but many don’t know she volunteers as a mentor in the CINO Legacy program, helping a senior find his career path.
The photo lab specialist was recently nominated for “I Spy,” CCU’s training and development program that recognizes employees for their dedication and enthusiasm for Teal Nation.
“Judy and I were students at CCU at the same time,” says Sara Wise, coordinator of employer relations and nominator. “Even as a student, she made it a point to always speak to anyone she passed. Judy models what it means to love her job, engaging with students and employees with genuine care. Judy’s passion for helping others makes the University the welcoming place we want it to be.”
Bill Plate, vice president for the Office of University Communication, agrees: “Judy is dedicated and hardworking. She takes pride in being a Chanticleer and is eager to stay on top of emerging trends in photography.”
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Johns moved to Calabash, N.C., in 1993. She found her way to CCU after a friend and student motivated her to apply. She even brought Johns the admission and FAFSA applications.
Johns admitted the move from Dublin to the United States took some getting used to.
“Everything has a much faster pace in Ireland, especially in conversation,” she said. “When I first came here, and I would get excited about something, people would have no idea what I was saying. The sense of humor is different too. We’re very sarcastic in Ireland.”
Johns has worked closely with Bill Edmonds, the campus photographer, for 10 years. She starting working with Edmonds as a student at CCU, and the job became full time during her senior year. She’s continued to work in the office since her graduation in 2005. Edmonds takes the photographs, and then Johns edits and sends them where they need to go. She’s also at Edmonds’ side during (some) photo shoots. Three student photographers send pictures for her to look over as well.
Johns also volunteers as a mentor for the CINO Legacy program. The program is a leadership opportunity for junior and senior students looking to leave a legacy at CCU. Students are matched with a volunteer faculty or staff member and meet every week to work on things like time management, interview skills, finance management, long-range goals and community service.
Johns mentors Deontre’ Wynn, a senior graphic design major who aspires to do design work for athletics.
“We really do get along so great,” Johns said. “I’m at the point where I’m asking ‘Did you eat today? Did you get enough sleep?’ Students like him are why I love working on campus. It’s a cool opportunity to be a mentor. He has to take similar paths that I had to with his career, so maybe he can learn from some of my mistakes. It’s been fun looking back on what I did.”
Johns introduced Wynn to Daniel Maableton, the graphic designer for CCU Athletics, to show him what the job is like. She enjoys creating those opportunities for him and believes CINO Legacy has been a great addition to her life.
“She’s been such an inspiration to me,” Wynn said. “She’s a very talented, professional, positive person, and I’m proud to have her as a mentor. She always gives the best advice and connects me with the best people in the business and I honestly feel that it could benefit me in the future. I’m more than honored to have her as my mentor because she gives me great ideas and opportunities and also allows me to get to know her on a personal level.”
Johns meets many students through her job. The photography office is responsible for taking individual portraits of freshmen of the E. Craig Wall College of Business Administration so they can create a LinkedIn profile with their professor’s guidance. The office also photographs commencement, sporting events, conferences and other campus events.
“I’m always so interested in meeting the students,” Johns said. “It’s fascinating to hear their different stories. Of course, it’s always great to meet international students to compare our experiences.”
Johns met her husband, Charles Johns IV, now the director of golf for CCU’s Hackler Golf Course, when she worked a second job at Joe’s Bar and Grill. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Sophia, who Johns could not help but smile over and talk about. She keeps her daughter’s drawing, done on a Post-It note, on her computer. She laughed looking at it.
“I always use Post-It notes. That’s just how I keep myself organized. I guess I taught my daughter young!” she joked.
Though her experience in the United States has been memorable, she does miss some aspects of Dublin, such as walking wherever she needs to go, instead of driving her car. She enjoys taking trips to Charleston with her family because she believes it’s the closest thing to home with its history and cultural events. When she and her husband finally have some free time, they spend it together.
"I Spy" is an employee recognition program whereby people can nominate staff and faculty members for outstanding performance. To nominate someone, go to coastal.edu/traininganddevelopment and click on "I Spy" for a form. Nominees are honored at the end of the year.