19-year-old Penn State Harrisburg student publishes first book during Black History Month

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - It's Black History Month, and ABC27 is honoring community members who empower and inspire others. A 19-year-old from Lower Paxton Township is doing just that.

"It was always inspiring to me that books could leave an impression on somebody," said Mariah Johnson.

So she spent years writing one of her own. 

"The book title is 'Carys,' and it takes place in a futuristic, alternative society," said Mariah Johnson. 

Mariah Johnson didn't even tell her parents, because she wanted to surprise them.

"I'd like to say I was shocked, but I'm not," said Steve Johnson, Mariah's dad.

He's not shocked because of how hard-working Mariah is. 

Mariah wrote the book in her free time, not that she has much of it.

The Penn State Harrisburg student tutors, sings at local churches, works as a teachers assistant, volunteers in her community and is an active artist, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

"She's a very humble person," said Christina Johnson, Mariah's mom. "Her love just exuberates from her."

Mariah's book follows a 19-year-old navigating what is perceived as a perfect world, but isn't so perfect.

It went on sale the first day of Black History Month.

"The whole history of black people...it's like a horrible history and they've turned it into something so beautiful," said Mariah Johnson. 

To Mariah and the Johnsons, Black History Month is a time to reflect on the past and look forward.

"It's a way to show young people that if you work hard, you get a good education, there is a way forward and there's people out there that will help you, and Mariah's certainly an example of that," said Steve Johnson.

"I'm not just hearing about these people," said Mariah Johnson. "I'm actually letting what they did affect me in my life."

While the Central Dauphin East grad is already working on a second book, she's studying to be a pediatrician.

"I'm just extremely proud of her," said Christina Johnson. "I can't stop smiling."

"My baby girl is just a remarkable young woman," said Steve Johnson. "She's not just looking to do for herself, but to do for others."

Mariah is holding a book signing on Feb. 23 from 3-7 p.m. at Paxton Church of the Brethren, at 6445 Lyters Lane in Harrisburg.

You can buy Mariah's book on Amazon.

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