High School Pursuit of Social Justice Pays Off as Berkeley College Honors Student Advocates Activism

Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
973-278-5400, Ext. 1-5122


“I always knew that what we were hoping to accomplish was real and important.”

- Oslene Johnson, Berkeley College Honors student, speaking of her high school project that resulted in drafting the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act, legislation currently active in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate


Berkeley College

Oslene Johnson, a second-year Marketing Communications major at Berkeley College, has stayed in touch with a handful of her high school classmates and a group of students currently enrolled at Hightstown High School in East Windsor, NJ, for good reason. In 2015, they decided to take action when their teacher told them about how many civil rights cases had gone unsolved, and how many of those cases remain obscured for legal or security purposes. They drafted a bill to address the problem, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act. Three years later, they are beginning to see their activism bear fruit. Two bills – H.R. 1272 and S. 3191 – are under consideration, respectively, in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.


“When I was in high school, I never once felt like I was working on a school project,” said Ms. Johnson. “I always knew that what we were hoping to accomplish was real and important.” Over the years, Ms. Johnson, her high school classmates and teacher, have been interviewed about their experience. In June 2018, they visited lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to advocate passage of the bill.


“Seeing myself and my peers quoted in news articles about the work we have been doing makes me that much more hopeful and inspired about what is to come in the future and the power of youth activism,” she said.


Follow-through is part of their activism. The continuing efforts of these students were described in several articles, most recently in ThinkProgress.org (March 17, 2018) and in The Clarion-Ledger, part of the US Today Network (July 8, 2018). You can read these, respectively, here and here.


Ms. Johnson remains active as a college student, still following the legislative process on this issue, as well as advocating for activism by others. She is secretary of the Student Government Association at Berkeley College in White Plains, NY, and assistant to the Office of Student Development and Campus Life, and she has served as a Student Ambassador for the Berkeley College Global Alliance program. Her main goal is to focus on doing well academically as she already has her sights set on attending the graduate school of her choice, where she intends to earn MBA and JD degrees simultaneously. She wants to combine her interests in business and law to continue to address social injustice.


“I am constantly thinking about what I can do next,” Ms. Johnson said. “How can I turn my passions into tangible results in the world?  If I can accomplish what I did before I was even 16, I can do anything. People need to use their imaginations and not be discouraged from pursuing long-term dreams, regardless of their age. You can talk to people where you work, oppose or support a bill using social media or call a congressional office.”


Ms. Johnson’s other interests include musical theatre, women’s soccer and the television work of Shonda Rhimes, television producer, screenwriter, and author, best known as the showrunner—creator, head writer, and executive producer—of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, among others.


Photo Caption: Oslene Johnson, Berkeley College Honors student majoring in Marketing Communications, outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., during her most recent visit to support the bill she and her classmates drafted when they were in high school, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act.



About Berkeley College

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls more than 7,100 students – including more than 440 international students – in its Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers an MBA in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.


Berkeley College has three New York campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are four campuses – Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. For five consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.


- End -

To view a high-resolution version of the photo, visit



Recent Releases

Jan 16, 2019 12:45:00 PM

Berkeley College Celebrates Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Community Service and Special Events

Berkeley College students, faculty and staff are commemorating the impact of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. through ...
Jan 15, 2019 3:38:00 AM

Berkeley College Jumps to 102 in U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Best Colleges in the Nation for Online Bachelor Degree Programs

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Berkeley College No. 102 among Best Colleges in the nation for Online Bachelor Degree ...
Jan 10, 2019 1:48:00 PM

Berkeley College Knights Defeat Washington Adventist in Hard-Fought Victory

The Berkeley College men’s basketball team picked up a hard-fought victory on January 9, 2019, defeating the Shock of ...