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When Union Education Trust Trustee Carrie Johnson graduated from high school, she knew full-time college wasn’t the right choice for her at that time. “High school was enough for me then,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want my mom to waste money after high school. I didn’t have the oomph to want to go on to college then,” she said.
Now after many years working as a state employee, she plans to use her UET educational assistance to pursue continuing her education this fall. She is finally ready to decide what training fits her interests and needs.
“I need to get a degree under my belt,” Johnson said. “I just don’t know what I want to do, honestly. But I’m looking forward to doing something for personal growth and professional development. And I’m so blessed to know my UET funds are there to help me every step of the way.”
“OCSEA and UET open a door, not just for me but for all union members,” she said.
Johnson initially participated in Job Corps after high school. After several jobs, she applied at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 1989, where she worked at several different BMV locations until 2000. But, because her role at the time did not pay into state retirement, she applied for a job with Summit Behavioral Healthcare in Cincinnati. Today she continues to work in Mental Health and Addiction Services in health information services, formerly known as medical records.
This was a good fit for her as Johnson’s grown daughter has a cognitive delay. Working at an agency with clients with therapeutic needs was a blessing in disguise. “It was a blessing to me to have hands-on experience with the clients,” Johnson said. “I learned a lot, and it helped me with my daughter. It helped me to understand her challenges and other aspects of her life,” she said.
“And it helped me to cope,” she added. “It gave me the peace that I needed. I got training every day while at work.” And UET can help members like her get the training they need, for work and crossing over into home life. As a UET Trustee she’s constantly talking up the value of UET, pointing out the recent increase in the Career Improvement Program benefit, which now offers up to $4,000 per fiscal year.
“I think the strong part of UET, along with the OCSEA Free College education program, is we are giving our union brothers and sisters the opportunity to get their education for free. The big word is ‘free,’” Johnson said. “I would encourage anyone who is an OCSEA member to take advantage of what UET has to offer. There’s nothing to lose from giving it a try.”
“This is an ongoing mission for the union, and I love it. I stress it so much,” she added “You’d better plan for your future today and get on this money! Use it!”
In addition to being on the UET Board of Trustees, Johnson serves on the OCSEA State Board of Directors, as president of Chapter 3180 Summit Behavioral, delegate to OCSEA District 2 Council and secretary of the MH/MRDD/OVH Assembly. She also chairs OCSEA’s Minority Conference Committee and is a union steward.
Many OCSEA members have probably heard Johnson perform, as she often sings at union conferences, including a national AFSCME conference. She is proud to lending her voice to the union in any and every capacity.