Meet Barri Johnson

Psychology, 2021

Barri Johnson ‘21 has faced quite a few challenges in her lifetime but has refused to let any of them stop her from achieving her goals. Her very first challenge: beating cancer.
Over Easter weekend in 1997, when Barri was just fifteen months old, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma Cancer, which develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body. 


“My parents received this diagnosis regarding my health and were in disbelief,” Barri said. “They questioned whether the lab could have made a mistake or if the test results belonged to another child. My treatment included chemotherapy, radiation therapy, two stem cell transplants, and numerous surgeries.”


Even as a baby, Barri was a fighter. She conquered her diagnosis and has been in remission since, ready to live her life to the fullest.


Following her high school graduation, Barri first attended Hampton University for nursing. When she decided to transfer, her sister Breanna, who is also a GMercyU graduate, recommended she should check it out.


Once she transferred, Barri found her home away from home.


“My favorite professor at Gwynedd was Professor Gullan,” recalls Barri. “Professor Gullan has always pushed me to the best of my abilities. She gave me the confidence and tools that I needed to succeed in my academic career.”


During her time at GMercyU, Barri faced several more challenges she had to overcome, one of them being balancing her school work with her physical and mental health. Even though she has been in remission for many years, Barri still suffers from physical symptoms from her diagnosis. Being a student full-time was difficult, especially when she was also working full-time at a local nursing home.


Ultimately, Barri switched from nursing to psychology when she found that she enjoyed her general psych classes. In her new program, she discovered a tight-knit community that gave her the tools to succeed.


“The Psychology department sets their students up for success and they provide guidance each step of the way,” said Barri. “Professor Reilly worked with me through each semester to ensure that my course load wasn’t too much for me. She also helped me plan accordingly so that I could graduate on time.”


And Barri finished strong. Utilizing the support system she had with her professors, the Academic Resource Center, and her family and friends, she graduated in May 2021, after conquering yet another challenge that affected so many: finishing school during a global pandemic.