Torrey Pines student athlete is first to attend an HBCU

Ayana Johnson has committed to play volleyball for South Carolina State University, an HBCU.

Torrey Pines High School’s Ayana Johnson will become the first-ever Falcon student to attend an HBCU, a Historically Black College and University. The junior has committed to South Carolina State University where she has received a Division 1 scholarship to play volleyball for the Bulldogs.

This marks another big first for Ayana as last year she started Torrey Pines’ first Black Student Union and was instrumental in bringing in a social justice class to the school.

“I am so excited for this opportunity and so happy I can bring awareness to Carmel Valley,” said Ayana.

We checked in with Ayana to learn more about her good news:

What were you looking for in a college?
I really wanted to look for a family-oriented atmosphere and somewhere I could feel connected with my Black community. I think after starting the first Black Student Union at TP, I figured it would set a good example and encourage other students of color to follow my path and be confident in who they are as a person of color.

Ayana Johnson

What stood out to you about South Carolina State University?
I am a very versatile person and like to explore new things. Since my whole family is from the east coast, I wanted to be somewhere over there, but also explore the south. I’ve always had an interest in South Carolina and North Carolina and I think it will be a beautiful opportunity as well as a culture shock that I am excited to experience.

What stood out to me the most at SCSU and their volleyball program was the immediate connection I had with Coach (Dawn) Barnes and the automatic potential she saw in me which felt amazing after a long recruiting process and working at the sport I love for years. Right when I stepped on campus, it felt like I was home... seeing people who looked like me, hospitality from every professor and the bond I created with my future teammates already.

What kind of work have you done this year with the Black Student Union?
We have done a good amount of fundraisers, we have done some community service where we volunteered for San Diego Rescue Mission to make hygiene kits and snack bags for the homeless in San Diego. We had a movie night at school where we showed the “Hate U Give” to emphasize Black History Month, as well as continuing to educate our school and district with our projects. For my senior year, I am going to work really hard to grow our BSU and work very hard this summer to plan a year full of events, community involvement and awareness to bring a point to TP that our BSU will continue and forever be a huge voice on campus for us Black students.

Do you know yet what you plan to study in college?
Following the theme of the Black community, I want to major in criminal justice at SCSU where I can understand Black people’s role in the justice system as well as all the other aspects of the law. This will also allow me to continue my activism in many different ways.