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Mercy Grad Wins Taiwan Scholarship

May 22, 2017
By Dafnis Delgado

Amber Loon Johnson has only gone to 12 countries since she has graduated from Mercy in 2014, and now she has her eyes  set on Taiwan with the Ambassador Scholarship.

Johnson is currently studying at the University of Nebraska- Omaha as a Goodrich Scholar, Honors Student, Sigma Iota Rho Member [International Honors Society]. She is pursuing a major in International Studies; with a concentration in Global Strategic Studies; and a minor Economics & Political Science.

“It took me two years to figure out exactly what I wanted to study but I have reached a place where my passion, study interests, and graduation plan align. I could not have done much without the incredible support, financial and emotional, of the Goodrich Scholarship Program at UNO which has funded my undergraduate studies. Higher education would not have been a fiscal reality without it; I encourage high school students to learn more about the program and apply.”

The UUSA Summer Ambassador Scholarship

The Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) Summer Ambassador Scholarship is a unique 8-week program designed for students who will be

representing their state as well as the United States, acting as ambassadors to

Taiwan. It takes place in Tainan, Taiwan at the National Cheng Kung University and includes the study of Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese culture. There is also

a service component that involves working with primary and secondary

education institutions in the city. The program covers the costs of tuition, dormitory, excursions, a weekend host family, and a language partner. Chinese

opera and Taiwanese cuisine are two classes she is especially excited for.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to embark on this adventure in both intensive language learning and cultural engagement. I look forward to the new friendships that will be made! Tainan is a city with a strong presence of spirituality and I believe that this summer will be a wonderful way to interact with other religions that I have studied but never personally encountered before,” said Johnson.

Johnson will leave on June 26, 2017. After the two-month program is completed, she will fly directly to Tartu, Estonia where she will do an academic year exchange. Once there, she will intensely study the Russian language as well as supplement her major with further coursework in political science and economics. Johnson will return to Omaha the following August, 2018.

“I plan on continuing my studies in Mandarin and Russian in the years to follow,” she said.

Johnson’s Motivation

Johnson has always had an avid curiosity for the ways in which different people perceive the world. “Language learning and an immersive approach to understanding a new culture appeal to my desire to better understand the diversity of the human experience. Supplementing this with further political and economic understanding increases the effectiveness of any community-driven action. These are values I wish to uphold, both personally and professionally, as I enter adulthood and establish a career path.”

When one of her younger brothers, Dylan, passed away during her second week as an undergraduate college student, her family received tremendous community support.

“While the foundation of my life felt relatively unsound, in the bigger picture I recognized the need to identify my passions and move toward living them out. With the conviction that God held my future firmly and that Dyl’s love would always be a constant in our lives, I began the never-ending process of discernment,” Johnson said.

She applied for the TUSA program that spring and was not accepted. While deeply disappointed, she felt motivated. Johnson made an appointment the next week and landed in Ljubljana, Slovenia the following spring for a six-month experience that served as a source of healing and further impetus toward an international career. She applied again as a junior, with strong reasons for my hopes to participate in the TUSA program, and was accepted.

“I am overjoyed and ready to learn more about Taiwan!” she said. “I strongly encourage current and future university students to seek out opportunities like TUSA. There are many national scholarships, including the Benjamin A. Gilman, which help students participate on study abroad programs. My advice—the more flexible you are, the more hidden gems you discover! Ljubljana, closely translates to ‘Beloved,’ and has certainly stolen my heart. I have a feeling that Tainan will do the same.”

In Mercy

Johnson describes Mercy as a place that brought her a number of serious friendships, a place where she could pursue her love of learning, and a strong, financially-feasible education that her family could not have afforded otherwise.

“My love of travel and desire to pursue an international career has been a part of me since I was very young. I continued to foster this while growing up through researching, reading, and watching a diverse collection of films and television shows that ranged from French, British, and Spanish to South Korean, Filipino, and Taiwanese,” Johnson said.

She says in her personal life she has an inner joy, a tangible warmth at the ability to better understand another person.

“In my four years with Mercy Theatre, I found I could apply this practice not only in friendships but on stage—when adopting a new role, I was given the opportunity to delve into that character’s inner workings, values, and demands on environment. While at UNO, I have continued to value this approach in my work as a dialogue moderator on issues concerning identity and inclusion.” Said Johnson.

Mercy emphasizes the role that service plays in the student’s lives. Johnson said her time at Mercy helped her develop empathy and think beyond her own struggles and pain.

“I continue to prioritize trust in God’s plan and strive to actively love those I encounter and hold dear, hoping to effect positive change and renew awareness of the presence of God in our lives, despite our hardships.”

For the Alumnae Community

Johnson would encourage the support of an intercultural approach to faith/religion and a celebration of diversity.

“This is a large part of my spiritual life and an integral aspect of how I live day to day. I believe that exposure to new ideas and different worldviews is an asset for people young and old. This is incredibly valuable in the form of friendships. I hope to see and hear about the adventures and spiritual journeys that my fellow Mercy alumnae embark on and encourage current Mercy girls to seek out opportunities to expand their horizons on this great big earth God has made,”

“Thank you for all the support this community has provided me and my family!”