ETSU alumnus holds book signing for scholarship

On August 26, ETSU hosted a book signing for Jocelyn Mooneyhan Lacey and her children’s book “An Angel Named Johnia”.

The book signing was held as part of a fundraiser, with $5 from each sale going to the Johnia Hope Berry Scholarship, awarded to a student pursuing a degree in child psychology.

Johnia Hope Berry was an ETSU and Sigma Kappa alumnus who had a passion for helping children in need. Hoping to turn that passion into a career, she majored in child psychology and graduated from ETSU with dreams of earning her master’s degree at the University of Tennessee. Johnia was killed by an intruder as she slept in her flat on December 6, 2004. She was wrapping Christmas presents for children in her community earlier that night.

“You hear about these horrible things that happen to people, but you never think you’re going to experience them,” Lacey said. “Writing this story about him, in a way, was part of my grieving process. Even though I wrote it years later, it was always on my mind.

Lacey, who was Johnia’s friend at ETSU and had been her “guardian angel” in Sigma Kappa, felt a call to share Johnia’s story. She fell into writing children’s books with a Christian perspective and draws from her own personal experiences. After graduating from ETSU, Lacey spent time working for Sigma Kappa’s corporate headquarters, and it was during this time that she learned the news of her sorority sister’s death. While writing the book, Lacey contacted fellow sorority sister Haley McManigal to illustrate it.

“We’re all human, and we all wonder why things happen, why things happen to the right people,” Lacey says. “It’s basically about helping people understand that from a Christian perspective it’s just things that happen and how we can make something good come out of something bad. so awful.”

The story follows Johnia on her journey to paradise, showing how she goes from feeling incomplete in her life’s passion to finding peace by seeing how her parents work to help children in need by organizing collections toys in his honor.

Johnia’s parents also pushed for a DNA law that requires anyone arrested to submit a DNA sample. The man responsible for Johnia’s death had previously been arrested in July 2004 and had provided a DNA sample which was later compared to the scene. Tennessee is the eighth state to pass the law, and Lacey is on a mission to get it passed in all 50 states.

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