Brian Underwood: Sierra Lutheran alum chasing another Tiger Tail

Chase Johnson played in the prestigious LSU Marching Band.

Chase Johnson played in the prestigious LSU Marching Band.

Chase Johnson had a tiger by the tail once, and now he’s chasing another one.

After the Carson City product received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology, with a Minor in Linguistics last year from Louisiana State University, the LSU Tigers alum, and 2014 Sierra Lutheran High School graduate, is now pursuing study of a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at LSU.

A notoriously difficult program where only 2 percent of applicants gain acceptance, Johnson has applied to the program at LSU with the goal of studying mood and anxiety disorders.

Since earning his undergraduate degree last year, Johnson has been working as a psychometrist at a private practice in Baton Rouge. His work administering psychological tests to patients has helped prepare him to become a Clinical Psychologist.

“I want to work with people who have severe anxiety or mood disorders and administer medications and various therapeutic techniques in hopes to improve their quality of life,” Johnson said. “My current job allows me to work hand in hand with practicing psychologists, so I can get hands-on experience working with patients and seeing what the ‘doctor life’ is all about.”

A physician’s life may pale in comparison to the rich campus life experience Johnson enjoyed as an undergraduate, where, among other pursuits, he played saxophone in the highly regarded LSU marching band.

“I was offered a position after sending in an audition tape the spring of my senior year of high school,” Johnson recalled. “I had originally heard about the band after they won ESPN’s Battle of the Bands a few years prior.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree so going to a large, public, state school was appealing to give me an opportunity to really experience ‘college life’ before buckling down on my education.”

And much like the rarified company he’s aspiring to join professionally, the company Johnson kept with the LSU marching band was equally unique.

“The LSU band is, without a doubt, one of the best in the country,” Johnson opined. “Throughout my career, especially the last two seasons, we frequently found ourselves ‘trending’ on Facebook and Twitter and would find tweets sent to us from celebrities across the country.

“No amount of warning or preparation can truly get your ready for coming onto the field with 103,321 people staring directly at you. It is an experience like none other and really makes you feel like a rockstar.”

But playing at football games wasn’t Johnson’s only music gig while at LSU. He also played in the pep band for basketball games, volleyball matches, and gymnastic meets. And it was during a road trip with the women’s basketball team to Waco, Texas, in the NCAA tournament he had one of his most memorable experiences.

“While there we happened to stumble upon a dodgeball tournament happening on Baylor University’s campus,” Johnson reminisced. “We joined the tournament with four teams and brought in a trumpet.

“We played various LSU school songs and ‘cheered’ for the other teams in the tournament. By the end, the fraternity that was hosting said that the LSU Band is welcome to any function on their campus and that we have a standing spot in their tournament should we ever come back again.”

Johnson’s commitment to music was balanced with his commitment to academics that saw him become a member of the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Scholars program during his junior year, something that also advanced his career aspiration.

“(Ronald E. McNair Scholars program) is a research fellowship aimed at helping underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students pursue research during undergrad and graduate degrees,” Johnson said. “It is a national fellowship that allowed me to work in various labs and on various projects ranging from Psycholinguistics to Healthy Aging and ADHD in College students.”

As he prepares for the next step in his journey, the Sierra Lutheran alum reflected on his secondary school roots and shared perspective on one’s high school years.

“High school is very important and should be treated as such,” Johnson said. “But no one will remember how your hair looked that one day, or that one time you gave a wrong answer in class. High school is a chance to envision the kind of person you want to become. College or your career is a chance to make it happen.”

Everyone should be so lucky to have a tiger by the tail once, not to mention possibly a second time.

Brian Underwood is Sierra Lutheran High School’s Director of School Development.


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