Skip to main content
Collapse Menu
Purple Leaf
Christie Johnson

I want Laurier students to thrive!

“There’ s a big difference between surviving – and thriving!” says Christie Johnson, manager of International Recruitment and Partnership and an Our Laurier donor.

She sees it in her colleagues, in students – and in her own children, who are also Laurier students.

“When their week is just going along, it’s going along. But when their week is great, they’re smiling and sharing stories,” she says. “I want every day to be like that for our students. To really be thriving!”

Johnson has a unique role at Laurier. Within International Recruitment & Partnerships, she leads a team that includes Laurier international student ambassadors as well as colleagues and partners, some of whom travel the world welcoming international students to the Laurier family.

Mental health is always a priority in her department. Before the pandemic, international students faced particular pressures as they encountered new cultures far from their home support systems, while her travelling colleagues were on the road up to 300 days a year, crossing time zones and living out of suitcases. Johnson ensured that her team put family/self-care first and actively supported best practices to make sure mental wellness was top of mind for her team.

The pandemic had added additional pressures, as it has for everyone.

“It almost makes me want to cry. It’s overwhelming!” say Johnson, who is very upfront and open about her own emotions. “International ambassadors who have found a Laurier family on campus, it is their home away from home, and now they’re spread all over the world virtually. Not having the ability to throw them a pizza party, give a hug, have community connection ... It’s been a challenge for students.”

She also reflects on the struggles her KW colleagues have had working from home, many of which we’ve experienced ourselves – milestones missed, families separated. Johnson herself hasn’t seen her own extended family together in a year.

“I see declining mental wellness everywhere I turn during the pandemic,” she says.

But Johnson isn’t the type to brood – she takes action.

“I know bad things happen all the time,” she says. “It isn’t about making sure you go through life without stress: It’s about how to cope when it comes.”

Johnson is quick to say how well she thinks Laurier’s Student Wellness programming shares this messaging and helps promote student wellness. That’s why her Our Laurier giving goes to support Mental Health Initiatives.

“Mental wellness – it’s in my roots,” she says. “My family has been deeply affected by mental health concerns and issues. I see that when people have mental wellness, they thrive.”

“We have a generation coming up that is so much more aware of themselves,” she continues. “I think this has led to our students knowing when they’re not feeling right, because something is not balanced or their mental health is being challenged, they seem to have the words to talk about that more naturally. If we’re working on taking away the stigma and we’re giving them a place to talk and share, then I want to encourage others to support that in their philanthropy.

“Let's help them thrive, not just survive.”

To join Christie Johnson and hundreds of other staff and faculty who help our students thrive, make a donation online or by payroll today.

Unknown Spif - $key