ELKO – An educational background in science, technology, math and engineering — as well as experience with pageantry and public speaking — led author Ruby B. Johnson to create an inspirational career magazine for women and girls.
Johnson moved to the United States from Sierra Leone as a young child. Her mother came first, established residency and then brought Johnson and her brother over.
“It was all about school for us, coming here and getting a better education than we could have in Sierra Leone,” said Johnson.
But, when she attended college she decided she wanted to mingle with other immigrants from Sierra Leone.
Johnson has always been civically-oriented and finished high school with 30 credits in community-related studies and hands-on work. She also volunteered at a summer camp for youths with autism.
A friend mentioned the Miss Sierra Leone USA Pageant and that, as a contestant, she could advocate for a particular platform.
“I had really bad ideas of how pageants were,” Johnson said. “But, they wanted women with substance, really well-rounded women. And, there was no swimsuit portion.”
At the time she was a mining engineering student at Virginia Tech. She decided she wanted to advocate for women in STEM careers.
Johnson won that first pageant in 2012 when she was 20 years old.
“Because of winning that pageant I got to go to Sierra Leone,” Johnson said.
While there, she carried the message of STEM, encouraging young girls in the country to get an advanced education. Johnson also managed to get an internship with the mining company Octea Diamond Group and went back in the summer of the same year.
“It is open pit, just like we have here at Nevada Gold Mines,” Johnson said.
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She went on to become involved in the Miss Earth Maryland Pageant and won.
“I used it as an opportunity to educate the state on mining,” Johnson said. “My platform was to bridge the gap between miners and environmentalists for the sake of Mother Earth.”
“I actually wound up winning the platform — the girl who was promoting mining ended up winning the platform award,” Johnson said.
A few years ago Johnson was hired by the Forest Service in Elko and she eventually moved on to work for Nevada Gold Mines.
“I actually live what I preach,” Johnson said about her career as an environmental engineer.
All of these personal opportunities have steered Johnson to focus on helping other women work toward careers in STEM.
“I was writing and brainstorming and [then] I realized with a magazine I would have a greater reach,” Johnson said. “I wanted to show the stories of women that are in STEM.”
The first issue came out Sept. 19, 2018.
Four issues later, the magazine is off and running.
Johnson finds interviewees through social media. She has interviewed professional women from as far away as Australia.
Johnson’s magazine has a far reach because almost anyone in the world can purchase copies from Amazon.
“The American Dream is real,” Johnson said.