Calling Dr. Johnson

Zharia Johnson

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – If things go as planned for Zharia Johnson, the Boca Ciega High School class of 2019’s 10-year reunion will have stories of her graduating from medical school and having opened her obstetrics or pediatric practice.

She has a love for little children and is excellent with maintaining them. In either of her desired practices, working with babies is in her future. For now, we salute Zharia as a recent high school graduate who believes that all things are possible.

Early in her high school career, Zharia discovered that there are no limitations other than what she chose to impose upon herself. She possesses a strong will and determination to be able to give something back to the communities in which she was raised.

“I plan to use education as a tool to prepare me for a vocation, as well as help me become a self-sufficient individual who is fully prepared for life,” she asserted.

Her mother, Rochelle Johnson, raised Zharia, and the two have a great relationship. She is the youngest of four siblings and often acknowledges feeling the pressure to excel and not make mistakes.

She also had challenges with fitting in, coming from a multi-ethnic household. Her dad is black and Hispanic, and her mother is American-Bahamian. This led to some challenging times and a period of being withdrawn.

When she entered high school, her struggles continued. She was ridiculed because her English had a Caribbean accent. Her outward beauty drew the ire of other females, and she found herself trying to defend what she couldn’t change.

Zharia was so affected that her grades suffered, and she did not want to attend school any longer. She enrolled in online classes, but with the help of her mom and assistant principal Kathleen Van Dora, she had a change of heart.

Fortunately, she learned that being part of more than one ethnic group is an advantage, not a detriment. She made the decision that no one was going to stop her from advancing in life.

“Everyone and everything in my past have been my teacher, and I feel that my history has inevitably led me to my major field of study, biology, of which I am immensely passionate. It has opened an endless doorway for me to walk through,” said Zharia.

Her goal is to work with children, especially babies, where she can be instrumental in them coming into the world and helping them be healthy and thrive.

Zharia confesses her belief in God has made her a secure and well-adjusted person. It has also helped her relate to others and value things other than money.

“I believe that helping others in any capacity is extremely important to one’s well-being,” stated Zharia. “No one is exempt from turmoil during their lives, and I can honestly say that I am thankful for the adversities and challenges that I have experienced.”

Zharia is proud to claim and take part in her diverse heritage. In the fall, she will be attending St. Petersburg College.

To reach Dexter McCree, email

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