Michael Otter-Johnson

Celebrate First-Gen: Michael Otter-Johnson '19, MBA '22

Photo of Michael Otter-Johnson

When you’re a first-generation college student, it feels like your whole family is going to college with you because it is such a new and unique experience for everyone.

Michael Otter-Johnson '19, MBA '22
Annual Giving Manager

What does being a first-generation college graduate mean to you?

Being the first in my family to go to college was a true privilege representing my family in beginning my higher education. It was also exciting to experience something so new and unknown, which made me want to be present and involved on campus. 

How did this shape your college experience?

Being a first-generation college student gave me the drive to not take these 4 years for granted and to give it my all. In addition to working a part-time job at Starbucks, I was involved in A.S.S.M.U. as the Senator of Business, planned campus events with the Campus Activities Board, was a member on Social Squad, and involved in numerous clubs such as Hui `O Hawai`i, Latinx Student Alliance, and Black Student Union. 

What were some of the challenges you faced? What are some of your proudest achievements as a first-generation college graduate?

My college decision was heavily reliant on financial aid that I received from the schools I applied to. If I was to choose my greatest challenge about going to college, it would be the decision process and having a talk about finances with my family as this would be a large financial undertaking for myself and my younger sister when she went to college in the next couple years. When you’re a first-generation college student, it feels like your whole family is going to college with you because it is such a new and unique experience for everyone. I am so thankful for Saint Martin’s for giving me the scholarships that I needed to afford my undergraduate degree, it made my final decision to attend here much easier. Throughout my years as an undergraduate student, I am proud of the connections and relationships that I made once I stepped foot on campus. I was extremely introverted in high school and going to Saint Martin’s with a small tight-knit campus community allowed me to find my place and most importantly own my space. That made me a lot more confident not only in myself but also as a first-generation college student of color.

Why did you go to college?

I always knew at a young age in school that I wanted to go to college. I went to college because I wanted to get a good education that would set me up for a career, but also because the idea of college was such a mystery that intrigued me to want to experience it for myself.

What resources were most helpful for you?

My professors were such a great resource to me during my time in school. Majoring in Business administration, I didn’t know very much about where I could take my career, and my professors and advisor became like mentors to me and helped me to see all the opportunities there are.

How did this experience shape and inform the work you do now?

Having been a first-generation college student, I bring with me determination and drive to take on new challenges and find the needed resources to excel in my work. I will forever be grateful for Saint Martin’s University and the experiences that I have taken from my time there as an undergraduate student. I am, and always will be, PROUD TO BE A SAINT.


Master of Business Administration

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Saint Martin's University is designed to be both flexible and accommodating for students with or without an existing business degree. The goal is to meet the needs of professionals seeking to leverage their undergraduate degree, knowledge, skills, and experience.

  • Main (Lacey)
  • Saint Martin's-JBLM
Type of Instruction
  • Hybrid
  • In Person
  • Online
  • Master
  • Master (4+1)