May 25, 2018
Tylyn K. Johnson, 2018 salutatorian, Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School.
Tylyn K. Johnson was laser focused on some lofty goals when he entered Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School, but had let things lapse in another area of his life.
“I really didn’t develop relationships with my peers until my senior year,” he said. “When I started high school, I wanted to be valedictorian for the sake of being ‘the best,’ and I obsessed over every assignment.”
It wasn’t until after three years of sacrificing interpersonal interaction for the sake of grades, that he realized he was missing out on some of the seminal experiences of high school: social interaction.
“My prior experiences had made me a cynic,” he said. “Essentially, I wish the younger me had known I didn’t have to play the role of some angry lone wolf character. I finally started to value my personal development, (and realized that) it’s okay to need other people.”
As Tylyn grew as an individual, he slowly began branching out, allowing himself to experience more outside of the classroom. A rather prolific writer, particularly in the area of social justice issues, he has around 100 articles in his portfolio.
He also has written a nearly complete draft of a novel that he has been working on since middle school. With an interest in writing that continues to grow, he hopes to shape it into a publishable work for his college honors project.
While Tylyn acknowledges his solitude held him back in some areas, it also afforded him the chance to focus on his studies and landed him second in his class.
Tylyn also found a great deal of support from external sources that he says helped cultivate his success. He credits his mother for creating an environment that fostered academic excellence.
He also found encouragement and inspiration from Mary Garner, whom he calls his favorite teacher. “She was a steadfast source of moral support for me, which kept me from becoming cynical about the value of education,” he said. “She has provided me a huge amount of support.”
Crediting the district for its increasing diversity of programs, Tylyn said IPS is doing right by giving students more educational choice. “Life is filled with options and different paths,” he said. “It is only right for the educational system to reflect that variety.”
Still, he says, the district could do more in expanding vocational programs and the arts, and in creating opportunities for students outside of STEM and honors courses.
Tylyn plans to attend the University of Indianapolis in the fall, and though he has not selected a major yet, he is strongly considering a sociology track.
After college, Tylyn hopes to pursue a career in policy analysis and advocacy and, true to form, wants to use his abilities in a favorable way. “I want to positively influence my community through writing and research, and understand the specific problems faced by the community.”