Greyhound connections and a strong work ethic are paying dividends for Tylyn Johnson ’22 (social work), who has developed a passion for adoption advocacy. While Johnson didn’t set out to become a student adoption advocate, the pandemic changed everything when the time came to pursue an internship.
“I had originally planned on doing some community center-type work,” he said. Instead, “I found myself working with the Indiana Adoption‘s Rosie Butler to develop an understanding of how foster care and adoption work, and from there, trying to raise awareness.”
Butler, a University of Indianapolis alumna, was immediately impressed with Johnson’s work and dedication.
“Tylyn has immersed himself in this internship, one that is outside the ordinary internship for social work students because of the pandemic, and has gone above and beyond my expectations. He has an exceptional ability to grasp concepts, interpret data, explore his ideas and run with them,” said Butler ’84 (social work).
As Johnson was learning more about the needs, practices, and history within foster care and adoption, he saw not only an opportunity to develop knowledge but an opportunity to try to help spark more conversations around this subject.
“The way I think about adoption, it’s about providing an important resource to youth, that resource being a “forever family,” which can improve their outcomes in ways that are massively important, and which can create more love in homes in a world that I want to see overflow with love,” said Johnson.
When Johnson started at UIndy, he was an undecided major. He knew that he wanted to help people in meaningful and effective ways, so he took a social work course with a service-learning element during his freshman year and was hooked.
‘The social work program has helped prepare me for my future career by articulating more specifically how I can actively engage communities in my work,” said Johnson. “[Extra-curriculars also] helped spur my development as a writer, as a resource professional, and as a human being.”
During his time at UIndy, Johnson has been involved in the Interfaith Scholars Program, the Black Student Association, UIndy Pride, and Healing Hounds. Additionally, he considers himself a “part-time writer,” writing and sharing poetry and stories where he can offer a bit of artistic empowerment to people who need it.
“As a social work student, Tylyn’s work ethic, creativity, scholarship, and passion for social justice are just a few of the unique qualities he brings to the classroom and his practicum,” said Christie Jansing, assistant professor and director of field education for the University of Indianapolis Bachelor of Social Work Program. “While his practicum will be wrapping up at the end of the semester, I know that great things are still to come for Tylyn.”
Johnson appreciates the support he’s received from student resources including the Professional Edge Center and the Center for Advising & Student Achievement. He has received support from many faculty members as well.
“Dr. Eduard Arriaga (Global Languages) really helped me engage more not only with writing multilingually but also in engaging with various areas of Afro-centric scholarship. And then seeing the likes of Rev. Arionne Williams (Chapel & Interfaith) and Andre Givens (Business) keeping really high standards but then also having a sense of joy that permeates the people around them has also influenced me,” said Johnson.
Johnson hopes to see more people investing in adoption in the future and is passionate about sharing ways to engage with adoption issues, whether that be reading about and listening to the perspectives of adoptive families and former foster youth, volunteering with foster youth through various organizations, or simply raising awareness by talking about adoption with the people around you.
He believes that steps should be taken to make adulthood an easier transition for foster kids/adoptees, from college preparation or vocational training to developing life skills or connecting them with community resources.
“Just because a kid is without a family foundation doesn’t mean they should be stuck with higher risks of homelessness or under/unemployment, and there are so many resources in our communities that can help them if the connections are made,” Johnson said.
Rosie Butler stated that “[Johnson] is on a mission. He really does want to get the word out that there is a need for Forever Families. He truly reflects the “Education for Service” UIndy motto.”