Kaila Johnson ’16: Community, Culture, and Legacy

You might call Kaila Johnson a renaissance woman. Her academic interests reach across several departments, with majors and minors in black world studies, English, sociology/anthropology, and women’s & gender studies.

When Kaila’s not in class or studying, she’s working for the OWU Women’s Resource Center, where she and two other interns organize programs like the annual Written on the Body: Body Image Speakout. She’s also a member of Sisters United, a campus club that educates and advocates for multicultural women’s empowerment, fellowship, and community engagement.

Kaila’s Comfort Zone is her RA room in the House of Black Culture (HBC), a heritage house similar to the Small Living Units.

“It’s a place of laughter, music, love, and focus, where I’ve spent many tough nights [doing] homework and memorable nights of carefree dancing. Meaningful friendships, conversations, people, moments, learning, and building happens at HBC—we build on the work and legacy of our ancestors through education.”

House of Black Culture
“Since freshman year, I’ve found family, support, and a shared sense of motivation at the House of Black Culture,” Kaila says. The house is dedicated to former sociology professor Butler A. Jones, known for his work with race relations and the Civil Rights Movement.
Blue with Envy
Blue is Kaila’s favorite color; she finds it calming. Blue walls create a great space for communication, she says. She also wanted to bring a piece of home with her—her blue bedroom walls.
It’s Time You Get a Watch
If someone asks what time it is, the ever-punctual Kaila says: “It’s time for you to get a watch. Time management is very important.” Kaila found the clock while thrifting in downtown Delaware.
The WRITE Stuff
Kaila painted this sign as her daily personal imperative to become a better writer. “It reflects my decision to pursue writing actively,” she says. “I’ve since added an English minor .”
Planting Memories
After Kaila’s great-grandmother died, family members took the plants home from the funeral. Her plants, a Cordyline, a Golden Pothos (her favorite), and a Bromeliad, are a constant reminder of her great-grandmother.
On a Mission
One of Kaila’s favorite memories at OWU is the mission trip she led with Dennique Corbett ’16 to Atlanta. This shirt is a reminder of that trip—and the good times she’s had at OWU.
An Invitation to Listen
You’ll rarely catch Kaila not listening to music. She has everything from classical piano to jazz, and R&B to mainstream rap on her laptop. Music’s one of the most important things for setting the vibe of the room, she says, and an especially important way to create an inviting space.
Infinite Possibilities
Kaila bought this silver bracelet at Tiffany & Co. in Toronto for her 18th birthday. She took the trip to Canada with her three-person Girl Scout troop, so it was “like a mother-daughter trip with two of my closest friends.”
Pan-African Flag Tradition
The RAs at HBC traditionally hand down this tri-color flag that’s been in the house for years. “I view it as a reminder of what I’m working toward,” Kaila says. “It’s very empowering and a reminder of the reason for the community.”
Quali-tea Cups
Friends and family know Kaila loves drinking loose-leaf tea. “I’m always gifted great tea cups and mugs,” she says. They remind her of the people who gave them to her.

By Abby Hanson ’16