That Girl: Mallory Johnson
September 8, 2009
__Mallory Johnson may be wearing stylish black heels to disguise the fact that she’s just shy of five feet, but she certainly has no trouble measuring up conversationally as the two of us meet for a midday coffee date. Articulate, gracious and energetic, this government major at the College of William and Mary makes it immediately clear that her first love is community service and bettering the world through the political process. Political TV shows, quotes and photographs with political leaders pepper Mallory’s Facebook page, and when we talk, she gushes about a future in law school and dreams of political office. But before long, this ambitious senior is relaxing, rolling up the sleeves on her white button-down shirt, and setting politics aside to talk about extreme organization habits, thinking outside the box and Christian Bale.__
*You are the recent founder of Students’ Petersburg Initiative for Community Engagement here at the College. What has been a cool part of your community service experience?*
This past Martin Luther King Day, we did this overnight trip and had a bunch of people come up on the actual day for a variety of service projects. We got the governor to come, and it was really cool. He was just a really nice, down-to-earth guy, and he brought his kids and his wife and his two brothers. He helped install sheetrock and nailed in baseboards and stuff. It was great. He was just one of us. We talked about the importance of doing service and involving the community.
*If you could do anything in life with unlimited resources, what would you do?*
My natural instinct would be to say travel the world and run for office. I’d have to work my way up, but eventually the office of president. It’s been my career goal for a really long time. And I know it seems far-fetched and everything, but I love politics and community organizing, and that’s sort of the path that President Barack Obama took.
*Is there a political figure in history that you especially respect?*
I’ll go with Thomas Jefferson because reading a lot about his style of leadership is so intriguing because he didn’t have a lot of confidence in himself; and yet he was able to do so much because he put a lot of work into it. He knew what his weaknesses were, and he put a lot of effort and time into working to alleviate what he felt were things he didn’t know a lot about or things he wanted to improve in himself. I really admire that kind of ethic. He was a visionary; he had an idea of where a country should go based upon his values and history and other leaders and stuff, and I think if you actually want to lead you have to understand where you are and where you came from.
*What’s your biggest fear?*
Oh, this is such a twamp thing to say but I’m going to say it anyway: failure [laughs]. Anything that I put my mind to I want to do the best I can. Just knowing that something doesn’t get accomplished because the effort wasn’t put in makes my hair stand on end.
*If you had to choose one thing to keep on a desert island what would it be?*
Since I’m such a Gmail addict, I’d probably have to say my computer, but wireless would have to be the caveat. If there was no internet, then I’d have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. I want to be Atticus Finch when I grow up.
*Do you have any bad habits?*
Oh my god I bite my nails like no one’s business; I need to stop that.
*What’s something you can’t leave your house without in the morning?*
I have this mondo leather planner that I’ve packed with post-its and pads of paper; it has little zip pockets and I would die without it.
*On a scale of one to ten, how organized are you?*
I would go with a 9.5. Sometimes when I have to rush out I don’t necessarily put my stuff away and my stuff can get a little messy; my bed’s not made right now. But without my planner and Google calendar I would be a puddle.
*If you were starring in a romantic comedy, who would you choose to act opposite you?*
Okay. This is a three way tie: Christian Bale, before his outburst though, because he’s really hot during his “Batman Begins” era. He’s a really good actor, he’s really smart and he loves his family. I’d also go with Daniel Craig in the James Bond-esque character minus the “Quantum of Solace” emo-ness and then Ewan McGregor.
*What’s your best quality?*
This is going to sound like a contradiction, but I’ll explain: I would say my practical idealism because I like to try to push things out of the box, but at the same time I understand that there’s a box there for a reason. If something can be done that’s new and different and you have the resources and the people to make whatever it is happen, then I’m all for it, but at the same time I understand that there are a lot of constraints in the world. Balancing the two is my good quality.
*If there was a time period you could go back to what would it be?*
Colonial era for sure. So I used to live in Washington state and we had to write novellas in ninth grade and they had to be historical, and this is before I knew anything about William and Mary or Virginia, but I wrote mine about living in Colonial Williamsburg back in the Revolutionary era, and I think it’s so ironic I ended up here. Just to be on the brink of such change; one of the people who was shaping the country we are now.
*So if you are given $1 to spend in a dollar store, what would you buy?*
If its summer, I’d say sidewalk chalk. I could spend hours with it.
*What is your favorite campus tradition every year?*
I love Yule Log and Grand Illumination just because it’s a great time to be with friends and to take a break from daily life and really enjoy what campus and Colonial Williamsburg has to offer. But kind of a quirky tradition I like is Audio Adventure. I’ve done Audio Adventure numbers three and four. It brings all kinds of people together and it’s fun and different.
*Favorite campus building?*
I have to say I really do like Morton. Even though everyone says its sinking I think it has character.
*Favorite mode of transportation?*
*My friend has a Vespa so I would definitely go with that. You feel very chic and very Italian, and plus they’re safer than motorcycles.*
__Mallory leaves me with her favorite quote: “This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes, and we reach for the stars.” It comes from The West Wing’s Jed Bartlet, a character beloved to Mallory for the way he “talks fast, walks fast, is brilliant and makes policy solutions that actually work.” This ambitious senior leaves to prepared for the LSATs later this month.__