“What I like doing most is helping people. That’s essentially what I do. People come to me with their problems and I do what I can to help.”
We connected with Mars Johnson, class of 2000, and were excited to hear about his travels and experiences after St. John’s and how love for helping others inevitably led him into law. From Habitat for Humanity to professional affiliations and full circle to our current high school students of SJS, his passion for people and ways he can touch their lives is evident in all the ways he gives back.
What year did you graduate from SJS?
Current Location: Guam
Profession: Attorney with Blair Sterling Johnson & Martinez. Prior to joining the firm, I practiced law in Hawaii at Kessner Umebayashi Bain & Matsunaga and Hughes Richards & Associates, where we litigated matters involving employment law, construction defects, medical malpractice defense, personal injury defense, and workers’ compensation defense.
What did you do the year following High School graduation?
I worked as a busboy at Capricciosa for the summer then attended Carleton College in Minnesota in the fall. That year I joined the college rugby team (this was before high school rugby existed on Guam), saw snow for the first time, and spent my spring break working on a Habitat for Humanity house in Leland, Mississippi. I earned my B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology in 2004 and went on to my law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, in 2008.
Can you tell us about the career path you chose after college?
After college, I took a year to think about what to do. I traveled around the country for four months, stopping to camp at national and state parks. In all, I visited 35 states. I spent the rest of the year doing project work at Wells Fargo’s Home Mortgage National Headquarters in Minneapolis (during the real estate bubble). I was a private attorney, focusing on business and insurance matters.
Outside of work, what other activities/organizations are you involved in?
I’m on the steering committee for Guam Young Professionals and I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Guam. I am one of two lawyer coaches for the St. John’s high school mock trial team. I also recently stepped down as Chair of the Continuing Legal Education committee of the Guam Bar Association.
What do you enjoy most about your current career position?
I like that it presents new and interesting problems every day. The political status of Guam, its geographic location, and the diversity of my firm’s clients (from individuals, to family business, to giant conglomerates) help keep things interesting.
How did you become interested in your line of work?
I have a lot of lawyers in my family going back generations. I fought the idea of becoming one for a long time, but I eventually realized what I like doing most is helping people. That’s essentially what I do. People come to me with their problems and I do what I can to help.
How has attending St. John’s prepared you for success in college and the workplace?
Having teachers who were patient enough to review all the essays and papers they assigned us and provided us with meaningful feedback was invaluable. I still remember a lesson where Ms. Petra and Ms. Hull patiently took the time to walk our class through the use of parallelism and split infinitives when they realized some of us were having problems with them.
I was able to essentially test out of my college’s writing requirements and was hired at a step up in a position (with a better salary) at a large company, both because of writing samples. Today, almost all of my work depends on my ability to write clearly and persuasively.
Do you still keep in touch with your St. John’s School friends?
I talk to my SJS friends that live on Guam all the time, but I admit I’m not very good about staying in contact with friends that have moved away.
Do you have a favorite teacher, mentor or favorite memories?
Ms. Chu was one of my favorite teachers. I always appreciated her extremely quick wit and the high expectations she had for us to think for ourselves and to act like adults. Graduation was also pretty memorable.
What would you say to a prospective family that is considering St. John’s School?
I would ask them to speak with and learn about as many of the school’s alumni as they can. The results speak for themselves. I am constantly amazed at the things my classmates are doing now.
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