It takes more than the natural athletic ability to become an Olympian. Those who have been there will tell you -- you need dedication, determination and relentless drive to chase down the dream. Those same traits can translate to other areas of your life.
Stacey Johnson, Olympic fencer, and former president of Valencia College’s East and Winter Park Campuses, has spent countless hours- with a foil- or epee in hand. She started competing at age eleven.
Johnson told Ivanhoe, “The fencing completely unlocked my brain and my body and everything else.”
Johnson was a four-time all-American at San Jose State in 1980, she fought her way to a berth on the U.S. Olympic team, then became the first woman to serve a four-year term as president of u-s fencing.
Then in 2012, she became the president of two of Valencia College’s seven campuses people in the state say she changed the landscape by her early push in digital arts to creating one of the first digital media schools in the city.
Wendy Givoglu, interim president of Valencia College’s East and Winter Park Campuses, was the dean of arts and entertainment at Valencia. She says Johnson was her mentor pushing her to finish her Ph. D, so Givoglu could take her position.
“She was coaching us and almost building like an athletic team so we could all be ourselves and bring our strengths to the table,” Givoglu said.
Johnson’s keys to succeed: don’t take yourself too seriously. People will disagree with you don’t hold grudges. Find a mentor who is right now where you want to be. And plan for the long term by educating yourself.
“It is the commitment to the scaffolding of knowledge throughout your life and it doesn’t stop it’s a continual process,” Johnson said.
While a member of the USA Fencing Administration, Johnson got women's epee and women's saber added to the Olympics. That's when the U.S. won gold and bronze in the first year of saber. She served as president of Valencia College’s east and winter park campuses for seven years and retired this past July.