BOSS Intern Makes Friends and Strides Toward Ending Homelessness

file_002Shonté Johnson is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley who is majoring in Social Welfare with a minor in Public Policy. She serves on the Executive Board of the National Society of Leadership and Success as part of UC Berkeley’s honor society. Even as a student parent, she commits to being involved on campus and is an active member of several scholars programs.

Since January 2015, Shonté has served as BOSS’s Development and Marketing Intern under the supervision of Sonja Fitz. In her short time here, she has managed to be instrumental behind the scenes with the success of BOSS’s Project Homeless Connect at Mosswood Park. Thanks to her friendship with Bay Area Artist, Kev Choice, she was able to secure his talents for the Career Training & Employment Center (CTEC) graduation while working on the planning committee. Ambitiously, Shonté took on the role of grant writing and succeeded in her first attempt by securing a grant from Bank of the West for BOSS’s CTEC program. Passionate about the education of our youth, Shonté established a partnership with Magoosh and our Rising Stars program for test prep and educational materials. Currently, as part of the planning committee, Shonté is helping to ensure that BOSS has a successful and memorable 45th Anniversary celebration.

Over the summer, our Executive Director Donald Frazier gave Shonté the approval toimg_3535 conduct independent research with BOSS staff and participants. Passionate about ending homelessness, Shonté designed a research study on how to improve access to shelter and housing for unaccompanied African American homeless  women. She quickly realized this population was underserved and grew concerned about the marginalization of homeless subgroups.  The University of California, Berkeley  Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program funded her research. The dissemination of her research was presented at the Annual UC Berkeley National McNair Symposium. BOSS staff member, Gwen Austin was in attendance to cheer her on. Shonté is working towards publishing her research in the McNair Research Journal.

In her own words, “working at BOSS has been like a second home for me file_000because it  feels like the BOSS team is part of my family.”  She goes on to say how much she enjoys working at BOSS and plans to stay with us until she graduates from UC Berkeley and leaves for graduate school. The BOSS mission is near and dear to her heart and core values. Shonté believes that she is fulfilling her life’s purpose by serving here. The reason behind her commitment to BOSS, hard work ethic, and determination is her personal connection with homelessness. Shonté lost contact with her mother, Vinola Stallings, due to her mother’s experience with chronic homelessness and is unaware of her mother’s whereabouts. Shonté has not seen her mother in eight years and hopes on her journey to end homelessness she will find her along the way.

Shonté expressed that it has been an awesome eight months being part of the BOSS family and thanks the staff for welcoming and being supportive of her and for all of the hard work we do for the community.  She’s looking forward to joining us in our 45th Anniversary celebration in October!