Helping Others Enjoy the Journey

Oct. 1, 2015

Johnstons_450It was a rock with a journey symbol on it that ultimately led James and Stephanie Johnston to endow the James and Stephanie Johnston Journey Scholarship for R.T.s, a scholarship that helps R.T.s to continue their educational climb toward a master’s or doctoral degree. The couple understands firsthand the sacrifices and commitment it takes to pursue an education.

Stephanie Johnston, M.S.R.S., R.T.(R)(M)(BS), grew up in a middle-class family in southern New Mexico. Her parents valued education but couldn’t afford to send Stephanie and her siblings to college. The tight finances didn’t stop her.

“When I went to college, I was looking for something that was going to get me in and out of school in the shortest time and provide a decent living. I went into radiology and it grew into this passion.”

Stephanie worked on both an associates degree in radiography and a bachelor’s degree in community health at the same time. She specialized in mammography and administration which has helped her develop five breast cancer centers, and is the director of the latest one.

James Johnston, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(CV), FASRT, grew up on a cotton farm in west Texas. His family had no money to send him to college, but with hard work and dedication he earned a valedictorian scholarship and secured Pell grants to attend college. “I joke with my students that all those hours on a tractor and in the field gave me a lot of time to think about what I did or didn’t want to do and what I wanted to be.”

Those hours of thinking led him to a big city community college and a job with M.D. Anderson that sparked his interest in research and mentoring other R.T.s. A master’s degree and doctorate in the radiation sciences and education served as his stepping stones to those greater plans.

It was their shared passion for education and the radiologic sciences profession that brought Stephanie and James together. They met for the first time at the ASRT House of Delegates in Orlando, Florida, when she talked with him about earning a master’s degree. Both were delegates and newly divorced. Over months of long conversations, Stephanie in Amarillo and James in Wichita Falls, they fell in love and married. At the time they married, James had a doctorate in health studies (health promotion/disease prevention), and Stephanie had plans to begin her master’s degree in radiologic sciences.

Even though they earned a good living together, starting over after a divorce—and then a new marriage—was difficult financially. Stephanie applied for and received two scholarships from the ASRT Foundation, which helped her progress through the master’s program. Then James was honored by the ASRT Foundation with an International Speakers Exchange Award for the United Kingdom Radiological Congress conference in England, which he saw as another investment in their future.

“It is from these gifts in our time of need, and our love of the profession that has been so good to us, that we decided to endow a scholarship,” says James and Stephanie.

Journey is a word that carries special meaning for the couple. Stephanie gave James a small worry stone on their first date with a carved journey symbol. “She said it symbolized the beginning of our journey together,” James said. He carries that stone in his pocket every day. And when they bought a small horse farm in north Texas, they named it “Journey’s Way Farm.”

They were married on the front porch steps of their farm, the stone and the name constant reminders that their journey together is a “way,” not an end. Today, their passion for breeding, training and showing Arabian horses balances out their many commitments to a profession they love.

Their hope is that the endowment will live on and be a small part of the journey for all those it helps along the way. “All we ask is that those who benefit from a scholarship be passionate about our profession, contribute to its body of knowledge and, of course, enjoy the journey.”