Bridget Johnson (B’97) Associate Executive Director, Prep for Prep

As a track star in high school, Bridget Johnson had always dreamed of running for a top-tier school, never considering the cost of tuition until it was time to apply. Fortunately, her athletic and academic prowess landed her a full track scholarship to Georgetown. During her first year, Johnson’s relay team broke the school record in the women’s 4 x 400 meter relay during the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship.

Johnson continued to run competitively after graduation and kept in touch with her former Georgetown track and field coach, Francis Gagliano. Gagliano later introduced her to Edward Rice, then athletic director at Episcopal High School—a college preparatory boarding school in Northern Virginia—who hired her to coach track part time. “I would go to the school three times a week, but eventually it turned into four, and then five times a week,” Johnson said. “I felt a connection with the kids and realized I wanted to continue to be a part of their lives.”

A year later, Johnson had worked her way up to associate director of admissions at Episcopal High School. “It was a very rewarding job because I was introducing students to high school opportunities they didn’t know existed,” Johnson said. “I knew I didn’t want to go into finance or corporate America anymore, and I never looked back.”

After eight years at Episcopal, Johnson moved on to become dean of students at Milton Academy, a preparatory and boarding school in Massachusetts. It was there she had the opportunity to work with Prep for Prep, a New York City-based education program. Already aware of Milton’s 20-year-old partnership with Prep for Prep from her days in admissions, Johnson was so impressed with their work that she decided to pursue employment with them.


 

Preparing for Future Success

Since 1978, Prep for Prep has been providing opportunities for some of New York City’s most promising students of color. The organization focuses on two programs, Prep for Prep, which enrolls fifth- and sixth-graders for day school placement in New York and PREP 9, which selects seventh-graders for boarding school placement throughout New England.

Thanks to the generous financial aid packages provided by Prep’s partner schools totaling more than $25 million, students selected for the program are able to attend top-tier independent day schools in New York and boarding schools throughout the Northeast.

“The students we select into the Prep for Prep programs are high-performing students who haven’t had the same opportunities as others their age to get the best education,” Johnson explained.

The selection process is highly competitive. Each year, more than 6,000 students with scores in the top 10 percent on New York state testing are nominated by their schools and only 200 students are chosen to participate. Before being assigned to new schools, each student must next complete Prep’s 14-month Preparatory Component “to ensure they’re prepared academically and caught up with their future peers,” Johnson added.

The organization also offers leadership development opportunities, such as seminars, internships, workshops and counselors who meet with the children and the school’s administrators on a regular basis. “It’s important for us to know how well the student is doing and work with the school to ensure a smooth transition to their independent school,” she said.

Paying it Forward

Prep for Prep’s support of its alumni doesn’t end after high school. Since most are first-generation college students, Prep for Prep provides college guidance to help students apply to the universities that suit them best, as well as offer financial aid counseling.

According to Prep for Prep’s website, “Ninety-two percent of Prep’s 2,275 college graduates have earned their degrees from the most competitive colleges in the country; nearly 40 percent have graduated from Ivy League schools.” Additionally, many Prep alumni have gone on to attend and graduate from Georgetown.

After college, many former Prep students make it a point to give back to the organization, either through volunteering, donating, working for the organization or sitting on its Board of Trustees. The commitment of the program’s alumni to give back is a true testament to the influence the organization has made on so many lives. Johnson hopes her work will continue to equip others to create opportunities for many more generations of students.