College of Education and Behavioral Sciences News
Boswell finds his rhythm through applied learning experiences on and off the Hill
- Mary Bidwell
- Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
From a recording booth in California to the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., graduating senior Johnnie Mikel Boswell is chasing his dreams across the United States of America.
A non-traditional student, Boswell pursued a career as a professional songwriter and recording artist in Los Angeles and Nashville before becoming a Hilltopper in the Mahurin Honors College.
At first glance, combining music and politics may sound unconventional, but for Boswell, the two have been closely intertwined.
"I have always been interested in political science, and in the past, I have done lots in the world of non-profit work and grassroots organizing. I have partnered with organizations such as HeadCount as a professional recording artist and songwriter to get young people registered to vote," Boswell shared.
Building on those efforts, Boswell also started the One Word Foundation in 2016. His foundation impacts causes such as homelessness, hunger, education, assisting disadvantaged communities and animal rights by teaming up with multiple charities to make a difference.
"All of this work made me love organizing and even more interested in getting my Political Science degree when I returned to school," Boswell said.
Becoming a Hilltopper was a full-circle moment for Boswell.
"As someone who is originally from Bowling Green and spent a large amount of my childhood in the community, WKU has always had a special place in my heart. In fact, when I decided to go back to school to earn my degree in 2020 as a non-traditional student, WKU was the top choice for me," Boswell shared.
As Boswell became more involved in the Hilltopper community, that sense of home and connection continued to grow. He joined the Potter College Dean's Council of Students, WKU Young Democrats, and Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society.
"I have loved being a member of the WKU community in so many ways – including as a student in the Mahurin Honors College, Potter College of Arts & Letters, and the Gordon Ford College of Business. The community is so different in each organization, which I love because I am able to work with a diverse set of individuals with different ideas and backgrounds," Boswell noted.
In addition to developing connections with fellow students, Boswell gained valuable applied learning experiences with support from multiple WKU offices.
In the summer of 2022, Boswell served as an intern for Congressman Eric Swalwell of California in the United States House of Representatives - an experience fueled by a Lifetime Experience Grant (LTE) from the WKU Office of Scholar Development.
Aimed at alleviating financial barriers for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, LTE Grants provide funding for students to strengthen their applications for nationally competitive opportunities that are relevant to their professional goals.
"The work and life experience I gained during that time was so valuable, and I know I will carry it with me throughout my time in the workforce," Boswell shared.
Funded by a Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) grant, Boswell also pursued research on voter access and election security with Dr. Scott Lasley, Professor and Department Head of the WKU Department of Political Science. Additionally, Boswell explored additional election-related topics during his presentation at the 2023 Student Scholar Showcase with support from faculty in the WKU Department of Political Science.
"I love the opportunities the department provides, as well as the tools that one develops through the coursework," Boswell noted.
Boswell arrived on the Hill with a passion for political science, but he also discovered new opportunities within the WKU Department of Economics.
"While it was never on my radar as a potential major, I fell in love with some of the courses and how they challenged my thinking. The professors in the Economics department convinced me to double major, and I am so glad that I did!" Boswell said.
From analyzing data to public speaking, Boswell gained confidence and cultivated a wide variety of tangible skills for his future.
"My activities and accomplishments at WKU have helped equip me to continue doing the things I love – such as political activism! I look forward to working to give back to my community and empowering young people to create change," Boswell shared.
As he prepares to graduate this December, Boswell is thankful for the consistent support from the WKU community across all of his efforts.
"I am so grateful for how the WKU community has supported my creative endeavors, along with my academic ones. Faculty, staff and classmates have always cheered me on. The sense of community that comes with being a Hilltopper is something I cherish. It is incomparable to anywhere else!"
After graduation, Boswell plans to take another gap year or two before continuing his studies in graduate school.
"I love learning and hope to continue doing so for many years, in hopes of pursuing research opportunities and the ability to teach future generations," Boswell shared.
- For more information about a degree in Political Science from WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/political-science/.
- For more information about a degree in Economics from WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/economics/.
- For more information about the Mahurin Honors College at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/honors/.
- For more information about the Office of Scholar Development at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/osd/.
- For more information about the Office of Research and Creative Activity at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/research/.
#WKUGrad series: As part of our #WKUGrad series, articles on graduating students are shared in the weeks leading up to Fall Recognition Ceremonies. See all of their stories at https://www.wku.edu/news/articles/index.php?view=default&categoryid=799&multinewsid=187
Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty and staff for long term success. As a student-centered, applied research university, WKU helps students expand on classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of the nicest towns in America, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.