On Campus
Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is working on a book about his life story and he's titling it From Rags to Riches. It symbolizes his journey from being poor to being wealthy, but his wealth doesn't have anything to do with material possessions. "I'm rich in the spirit. I have millions in spirit. That's my faith talking. It's not about the money."

Johnson is a native of Philadelphia who has battled a lifetime of demons; substance abuse, incarceration, and the unexpected death of a child to name a few. "I've got scars. I've been shot. I've got bullet wounds because of the way I was living. I was making the wrong decisions."

He had experienced extended periods of sobriety, but always stumbled at some point. Everything changed for him in late 2019 when he was incarcerated. "I was in the still of the jail and I heard, 'The lord is my shepherd.' Ever since then I've been moving. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. It saved my life."

He began his new life on the day his incarceration ended, January 2, 2020. He attended weekly Men's Group meetings, went to Narcotics Anonymous and met his sponsor, and as an ordained minister started his own church, "Cast Ship Ministries."

He started a business, Johnson's Custom Tailoring located at 115 East Jefferson Street in downtown Syracuse. He also started his own school, "Johnson's Enterprise Community Development Training Center," to help give people of all ages the basics.

In 2021 Johnson enrolled in Onondaga Community College's Human Services degree program so he could help others. "I didn't want to waste any more time. I wanted to get a degree."

Now at age 62, this father of 8 and grandfather of 18 is convinced he's on the right path and enjoying the riches that come with it. "I'm living one day at a time. I plug in to God every morning. When I plug in, I can't have a bad day. If my spiritual need is met, I can handle anything else. I'm all the way in now. I've got peace."

Onondaga Community College