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APUS Alumni Stories: Rising to the Challenges of Life

APUS Alumni Stories: Rising to the Challenges of Life


By LaVarn Gordon, APUS Student & Alumni Affairs Liaison, and Denzel Johnson, AMU Graduate

Life can sometimes present obstacles that make it seem impossible to accomplish one’s dreams. But American Military University graduate Denzel Johnson is a shining example of turning those obstacles into opportunities.

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Coming from a complicated childhood and rising to being the first in his family to obtain a college degree, Denzel has proven that he has the power to accomplish his dreams. His passion for fitness and his interest in cybersecurity have driven his current accomplishments and future career goals.

From a Difficult Childhood to the Military and a Passion for Physical Fitness

Denzel Johnson
AMU graduate Denzel Johnson

Denzel grew up in Panama City, Florida. As a child, Denzel moved a lot because of complications between his parents.

As he was growing up, Denzel experienced many hardships, including abuse, homelessness and family issues. He did not see many examples of success around him.

Much of his environment involved being around family members who often found themselves in trouble with the law and pursuing lifestyles that led to bad behavior. Denzel decided early on that he wanted a much better life for himself, so he made plans for improvement.

Denzel started his journey by joining the Air Force in 2014. It was here that he began to develop his passion for fitness, which led him to compete in bodybuilding competitions as well as personal training.

He also began to experiment with fitness supplements. However, Denzel depended heavily on the salesperson’s advice when he made decisions about which products to use to achieve his fitness goals. This advice proved to be problematic, as the salesperson was more interested in creating a sale than helping him reach his goals.

As he gained more experience, Denzel started doing a more in-depth analysis of how to use supplements safely and legally while getting the results he wanted. He looked more carefully at the products and the ingredients in the products he used. The issues he found with his study of supplements helped give birth to his online business, DMDGoals.

Discovering AMU

During his military service, Denzel found AMU and pursued a bachelor’s degree in information technology. His education at AMU played a considerable role in helping him to run his online business.

For instance, Denzel’s classes taught him to manage his online presence. He also grew his knowledge of everything from web and graphic design to analytics, managing web traffic, and the essential uses of social media.

The courses he took helped him narrow down the focus of his online business and push his creative mind in developing the business. Denzel later graduated with his degree in February 2020.

Running an Online Business during a Pandemic

Denzel’s business allows him to share his love of physical fitness, workout plans and the key ingredients for overall health improvement. His day-to-day work consists of fitness plan creation, supplement formula creation, web editing, graphic design and website auditing.

Denzel acknowledges that there are still challenges he faces with business, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, he sees the highest traffic for his company during the winter months, which he believes is the result of more people being at home and making more use of online shopping.

Denzel notes that there are some good days and some bad, but he has endeavored to remain consistent while using the knowledge he gained from AMU to continue his business success.

Future Plans

Obtaining his bachelor’s degree has been Denzel’s most significant accomplishment to date. By being the first in his family to receive a degree, he wanted to show his siblings that it is possible to get a degree and get so much more out of life. Even though we all face obstacles and hardships, he knows from personal experience that it’s never too late to go after greatness.

Now, Denzel is pursuing a master’s in business administration with a focus in cybersecurity with AMU. He is fascinated with computer technology and this field’s opportunities in defense, offense, information assurance, and forensics.

Denzel is currently a Junior Information Systems Security manager at Planned Systems International (PSI). Eventually, Denzel hopes to further expand his career and become a Director of Information Technology, Chief Information Office, Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Security Officer.

Success in Life Is Dedication, Motivation and Discipline

Denzel attributes his success to three words: dedication, motivation and discipline. He believes dedication is about never giving up, even when one is going through hard times.

Denzel says, “Do everything necessary to get to the goal. Motivation creates a drive that helps in the realization of dreams. Though discipline is sometimes hard to maintain, it is necessary for success. In the end, it provides the consistency that is needed to be successful.”

Life’s obstacles have proven they were no match for Denzel Johnson. His example of perseverance and innovation provides hope that anything is possible in life with hard work. Success has created a legacy for Denzel that will allow his family to find their place and achieve their dreams because he dared to dream.



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