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Kenna Dunlap Johnson

Kenna Dunlap Johnson

Director of behavioral health | Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services | Class of 2005

A decade and change after having Sandie Kopels for Social Work and the Law, Kenna Dunlap Johnson still remembers the story she told about “Bradley.”

“A 29-year-old man with autism whose guardians had requested that a cattle prod be used to manage his behaviors,” Johnson says. “That story stuck with me and taught the point of adversarial position. It also taught me the depth of social work and how the law can impact social work practice to a great extent.

“Sandie taught about some really difficult challenges that social workers may face in the field — however, she was able to keep the class interesting, lighthearted and enjoyable. She carried an incredible sense of humor and ability to connect to her students.”

And she did it all without lecture slides — unnecessary given that “she knew her material so well,” Johnson says “I spent her class time riveted by her instruction. I took some of the best notes in her course and her teachings had a lasting effect on me and the work I do today.”

Now the director of behavioral health at Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services, Johnson earned both her bachelor’s (psychology) and master’s (social work) at Illinois, as well as a certificate in business administration a few years later.

Among Johnson’s other greatest UI influences, from her undergrad years: psychology professor Janice Juraska.

“I recall gaining a deeper appreciation for the rodent population as she shared interesting research surrounding psychology, stemming from her work with rats. I will also never forget her teaching us about our ability to believe in God and science — and that we may consider that God is the creator of science.

“This was helpful for me as a young college student who was still searching for self, considering how faith can be challenged on college campuses without any deeper discussion or encouragement for a heightened level of understanding from those in teaching roles.

“I commend Professor Juraska for this and it is something that has stuck with me for all of these years.”