Against All Odds

Dr-Charlie-Johnson-LebanonValleyCollege

The backgrounds of many renowned LVC figures may now be lost to time. We cannot say whether their paths were privileged or poverty-ridden, but we do know that many of today’s LVC enrollees are first-generation, Pell grant-eligible college students. Often, this means they have overcome insurmountable odds to get here. 

Dr. Charlie Johnson ’11, D’13 was one such student. He grew up in a broken home marred by multiple divorces and alcoholism. As a teen, Johnson watched as the family’s house was foreclosed and cars repossessed. They spent that long, hot, summer living in a tent, Johnson recalled. 

When it came time to consider college, Johnson had to rely on a generous high school guidance counselor to co-sign for his student loans. But long before that, he learned to depend on himself. 

“I had few people to rely on growing up,” Johnson said. “I learned pretty quickly that I had to rely on myself. Failure was not an option. I knew that I had to be fearless to break free from my past and create a life worth living.” And like his alma mater in her darkest days, Johnson emerged from the ashes of his tumultuous beginnings with incredible resilience. 

“Looking back, the resistance I faced in my early years resulted in tremendous growth,” Johnson said. “Through this journey, I had no choice but to become hard-working, resilient, relentless, and resourceful.” As fate would have it, his college of choice shared these traits. 

Johnson excelled as an LVC student, ultimately earning a doctorate in physical therapy, and conducting a postdoctoral residency at the University of Southern California in preparation for opening his practice, Physical Therapy & Johnson (PT&J), in Royersford, Pa. 

He credits the College with serving as “a springboard” for his personal and professional development. “The small class sizes and hometown feel allowed me to remain an individual and be valued for my unique qualities. I never felt lost in the crowd, and I always had a voice.”