Dedrick Johnson, the newly elected mayor of Texas City, Texas, could be described as a renaissance man.
The College of the Mainland (COM) alum and former Texas City Independent School District educator has served in a variety of civic leadership roles, including Texas City commissioner, church minister, NAACP member and founder of leadership and special projects consulting group, Dedrick Johnson Productions. But perhaps a lesser-known part of his story is his unique transition into the petrochemical industry, where he currently serves as a process technician at the Marathon Petroleum Corporation.
Upon graduating from Texas City High School, Johnson went on to earn a bachelor of journalism in public relations at the University of Texas at Austin. After returning home to Texas City, he fell in love with education, and soon began his 15-year career as a school teacher.
Though, as fate would have it, he took a detour from his teaching profession after sparking an interest in working for industry. This led him to the COM process technology (PTEC) program.
“My educational experience was unique in the sense that most people go off to the local community college as a launching pad, but I had already begun a career and completed my degree at a four-year university,” Johnson said. “I found myself being interested in one of the programs that College of the Mainland had, and that was the process technology program, so I went back to school.”
A path to a new career
Johnson graduated in 2011 with an associate of applied science in petrochemical process technology and is now a proud COM alum who credits the college for equipping him with the knowledge and training needed to thrive in the region’s robust petrochemical industry.
COM’s PTEC program, which is the first in the nation to offer an associate degree, provided Johnson innovative learning opportunities through hands-on lab and classroom instruction. Here, he trained alongside industry professionals, which ultimately allowed him to transition into the new and fulfilling career path he loves.
“The process technology program just opened my eyes to whole new different possibilities,” Johnson said. “The professors were all very knowledgeable of the content. Many of them may have been adjunct professors or professors who were retired from (refineries) themselves, so they knew all about the hands-on ins and outs of working in a refinery. So, when I go there in industry in my current career, it was an easy transition for me.”
A different POV
Now leading a city that is home to one of the region’s foremost petrochemical hubs, Johnson recognizes that through his unique scope and depth of experiences as an educator, public servant, and industry professional, he can guide his city in a promising direction.
“I now have a renewed sense of purpose and understanding as it relates to a collaboration between our local schools,” said Johnson. “Because city, school and industry, that’s a unique trifecta of experiences.”
And if there is one lesson to be learned from those experiences, it is that with a solid educational foundation, the possibilities are truly endless.
“Access to affordable, high-quality education is important to the citizens of Texas City because when you educate your population, you make it more conducive for them to be better contributors to society,” Johnson said. “We’re creating our own workforce. Whether it be through the medical field or through process technology, we have so many viable industries in the city of Texas City.”