“Lifetime Learner” Makes Rutgers-Camden His Last Stop

Greg Johnston will earn his degree in accounting from Rutgers University-Camden.

Greg Johnston will earn his degree in accounting from Rutgers University-Camden.

Out of all of the titles Greg Johnston has held — lawyer, teacher, computer programmer, musician, and now accountant — he has found one that suits him just fine.

“I consider myself a lifetime learner,” says Johnston, a Glassboro resident and 2015 Rutgers University–Camden graduate. “I could have stayed with my very first job, and many people stay in one job for 20 years or more, but my nature is to continually learn and grow.”

After earning his law degree from Widener University in 1998, Johnston practiced consumer law and represented low-income clients while also handling bankruptcy cases.

“I’d like to say it was what I had always envisioned, but I can’t say that it was,” says Johnston, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Delaware. “I enjoy helping people and that’s one thing that drives me. It’s why I enjoy teaching. But it was very demanding of my time.”

It was time to switch gears. Johnston began teaching high school English in Delaware, worked as a computer programmer, and even moonlighted as a keyboard player in a few rock bands before landing on a new career path.

“I had a law degree and I was searching for something that would be a good parallel to that field,” he explains. “I thought it could be accounting. I thought that was a good match for me.”

With a new goal in mind, Johnston decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in accounting at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden. At Rutgers–Camden, he took on a research project with Alok Baveja, a professor of management, in which he analyzed hospital data to find prevalence rates of cardiovascular diseases throughout the state of New Jersey.

Johnston calls coming to Rutgers–Camden and meeting Baveja a turning point in his life. “I felt like I could finally utilize my data background and apply it to meaningful work,” he says.

“Greg stood out as not only an outstanding and diligent student in an undergraduate management science course he took with me, but also as somebody who had a lot to offer,” says Baveja. “That’s why I hired him to work as a research assistant on a funded healthcare analytics research project. He was a quick learner, very reliable, meticulous and, indeed, did a phenomenal job. Greg embodies the spirit of Rutgers–Camden, working tirelessly to excel in academics, taking on multiple jobs to make ends meet, providing care to his elderly parents, making time to provide academic help to fellow students, and still finding the energy to pursue his passion in music and teaching.”

In addition to his research, Johnston also went back to teaching, so to speak. He became a tutor at Rutgers–Camden’s Learning Center, helping other students with statistics, accounting, and management courses.

“I feel like I can talk to students who are struggling with balancing their life, making career choices, and deciding on a major. It all came together for me, and I enjoy helping them,” he says.

Looking back, Johnston says he doesn’t regret the career change, and feels more fulfilled due to all of his experiences.

“I tried it all and I don’t regret any of it,” he says. “But I’m hoping this is my last stop.”

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