Graduate Student of the Month
Forrest Johnson, MA program
Forrest Johnson grew up in Estes Park, Colorado where his father taught outdoor education to 6th graders and his mother was a camp nurse. Every summer the Johnson family would stop in American Falls to visit family on their way to Oregon. Along the way, they would read The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to each other. Then, in the 5th grade, a friend introduced him to Calvin and Hobbes, and between Watterson, Tolkien and Lewis, Forrest developed a passion for reading.
Despite his growing love of literature, Forrest did not know what he wanted to study in college. After a year at a local community college, Forrest decided he would move to attend Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. At the time, Multnomah did not have an English major, but he believed that he could still follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Tolkien by studying theology and Koine Greek. After a lackluster year of school at Multnomah, Forrest took a semester off to backpack around Europe with a close friend and his sister. On this trip, while reading Johnathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels on a train somewhere in France, he had the thought, “I want to be a part of this.” Though he didn’t quite know what this epiphany meant, it was nonetheless thrilling to the previously directionless youth. When he returned to Multnomah for spring semester, he was determined to take every literature or writing class he could possibly cram into his schedule. This did not work out as well as he had imagined, but it did confirm his belief that literature and writing was the field for him. After hurdling a number of obstacles (including Multnomah initially not having even an English minor), Forrest received his BS in Biblical Studies and Theology with a minor in English from Multnomah University in 2011. By this time, he was married. His wife had started her Masters in Library Science and he was working in a preschool trying to gain teaching experience in any way possible. He then earned a fine arts certificate from the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Comics and Graphic Novels. He also worked for Powell’s Books, running their self-publishing service. In 2013, Forrest was accepted into ISU’s English MA program and awarded a Teaching Assistantship. He is currently in his second term and is considering whether it is possible for him to combine his interests in early American newspaper comics and the Irish language.
When Forrest is not at the school he may be found: playing monsters with his daughter, watching the Dick Van Dyke show with his wife, cheering loudly for the Portland Trailblazers, building cigar box guitars, drawing comics, birding, or skateboarding.