Vanessa Johnson

Associate Professor

Applied Psychology


Professor Vanessa D. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology for Northeastern University. She is the former director of the College Student Development and Counseling Program. She has designed and teaches courses entitled: Contemporary College Student Activism; The Black Power Movement’s Impact on Higher Education; Relationships in College; Counseling College Students; and, Childhood Adversity and its Impact on College Attainment. She teaches courses related to college student development and the administration of programs and services in student affairs. She is the faculty leader of two Dialogues of Civilizations to Ghana, West Africa. The first explores Education and Learning in Ghana. The second is a study of Health Care and Health Systems in Ghana. She has developed two instruments that measure residence hall racial climate used by institutions and researchers to inform scholarship and training. Her scholarship includes exploring African American college student development using culturally-based approaches such as the Nguza Saba, the impact of welfare reform on single mothers’ access to higher education, teen mothers’ higher education attainment and most recently exploring student activism, particularly the Black Power Movement’s impact on higher education. She has also designed and implemented several pre-college programs for at-risk, and high achieving high school students.


Dr. Johnson’s current research focus is on college student activism, the Black Power Movement and short-term study abroad experiences in Ghana. Her former research focused on teen parent access to college and careers and college access and retention of first-generation, traditional-aged, single-parent, college students.

Johnson, V. D. & Miller, C.E. (2010). Teen Mothers’ College and Career Aspirations. Presentation to the annual meeting of the ACPA-College Student Educators International; Boston, Massachusetts; March 23, 2010.

Johnson, V.D. and Miller, C. E. (2010). Exploring the College and Career Aspirations of High School Matriculating Teen Mothers. Colloquium Series: Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology, Northeastern University. March 10, 2010.

Johnson, V.D. (2010).  Exploring Teen Mothers’ College and Career Aspirations. (In Progress).

Johnson, V.D. (2008). Impact of welfare reform and race on African American single mothers’access to higher education. Journal of Black Studies, publication date not determined.

Johnson, V.D. (2009). Baby Mama Trauma in Academia: Factors that Contribute to African American Single Mothers’ Persistence in Higher Education. Presentation to the annual meeting of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators; Seattle, Washington; March 7, 2009.

Johnson, V.D. (2008). Welfare Reform, Race and African American Single Mothers’ College Access. Accepted for presentation to the annual meeting of the ACPA-College Student Educators International; Atlanta, Georgia; March 29, 2008.

Johnson, V.D. (2009). Baby Mamas and Baby Daddies: The Juggle and Struggle to Raise Kids While in College. Presentation to Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative,Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the Office of the President, PROUD, NAACP (Clarion Chapter), Students for Life, Women and Gender Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, and Women United of Clarion University. October 21, 2009.