by SHYANNE LOPEZ | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Warmhearted Wunderkind

At just 11 years old, Ayana Johnson has already dedicated an impressive amount of time and energy to making a difference in the lives of others. A sixth grader at Solana Ranch Elementary, Ayana lives in Carmel Valley with her parents Tanya and Aaron, who serve as Ayana’s biggest source of inspiration. “They support me in everything I do and I love them with all my heart,” she shared.

With a solid family foundation and sense of purpose, Ayana has accomplished essentially every project she has set her mind to. When Ayana was in the first grade, she visited her mother’s college campus and came across a flyer about kids in Africa who needed shoes. She was instantly moved and responded to this call to action by collecting shoes from neighbors. After collecting 150 pairs, Ayana donated them to the organization Soles4Souls. “We got an email from the organization a couple weeks later, and I was so excited to hear that the families now had protection on their feet!” expressed Ayana.


In the fifth grade, the young philanthropist also started the Anti-Bullying Club at her school. “The reason I wanted to do this was because I wanted to inform my school, community, and world what is really going on out there,” Ayana explained. Leading a group of student volunteers, Ayana organized the completion of an anti-bullying film meant to inspire people to do their part to stop bullying. In addition to these major projects, Ayana also volunteers for groups such as the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation and the Blue Roses Girls.

When not working hard to make the world a better place, this Student Star enjoys being at school, learning English and social studies, being a Safe School Ambassador, and working on Solana Ranch’s news network program. She also is passionate about sports. Ayana has swam with the PAC swim team for five years, and participated in the Del Mar Jr. Lifeguard program for the past three summers. While the water is her “happy place,” her true passion is volleyball. She has been a part of WAVE Volleyball for three years and strives to play in college on a scholarship, her ultimate goal being to play in the Olympics.

With everything she has on her plate, you’d think Ayana wouldn’t have much time left over. But she makes it a mission to take advantage of all her world has to offer and fills her free time with friends, hiking, yoga, and of course, trips to Starbucks.

Name: Ayana Johnson (11)
School: Solana Ranch Elementary
Grade: 6
Parents: Tanya & Aaron Johnson
Favorite Local Spots: Katana Sushi, Urban Plates, Starbucks, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and the beach