Suffolk’s Johnson is finalist for Outstanding Teen scholarship

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Ayana Johnson, a 16-year-old rising junior and honors student at Nansemond River High School and Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen 2022, is a finalist for the “Teens In Action” Scholarship Award at the National Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition this week in Dallas.

She was selected as one of the top seven candidates for the award and will participate in a final interview with a separate panel of judges, featuring Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, Marcelle LeBlanc, on Friday morning.  Each finalist will present her “Social Impact Cause” and field questions as she competes for a $1000 scholarship.

Johnson is an accomplished dancer, having been previously accepted into summer intensives with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Joffrey Ballet School. She dances at the Governor’s School for the Arts, where she studies ballet, jazz, hip-hop and more. In addition, she is a classically trained violinist.


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As Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen 2022, she will promote her social impact program: Ayana’s R.E.A.D. Initiative, an acronym that stands for the Readiness to Empower, Advocate and Diminish Hopelessness and Chronic Diseases. She chose this initiative because she was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that affects more than 100,000 people in the United States each year.

As the 2021-2023 National Teen Ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Johnson shares her story and speaks to other students about living with the disease. An official spokesperson for the CDC, a Children’s Miracle Network Local Champion, a CHKD Ambassador and an American Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador, she has helped raise over $6 million during her tenure for the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters.

“It was super exciting to win the title of Miss Virginia’s Outstanding Teen,” Johnson said, “and I’m super passionate about my social impact initiative. That’s what it’s all about for me. That’s why I started competing in the Miss America Scholarship Organization, so having that passion, that drive to further my social impact initiative and having the platform and using it as a microphone is what I’ll continue to do as I represent the state.”

To vote for Johnson for the National Miss America’s Outstanding Teen America’s Choice Award 2023, visit