A special night for a hero

17:00, Jul 02 2011
Sam Johnson
YOUNG STARS: Sam Johnson and colleague Jade Rutherford at the Sir Peter Blake awards.

When Sam Johnson first picked up a shovel and mobilised his student mates to help clean up Christchurch's streets after last September's earthquake, he never imagined his efforts would turn him into an international star.

But as the leader of Christchurch's Student Volunteer Army, 22-year-old Johnson is in demand around the world.

Organisations across the globe are lining up to learn the key to his success and next month he is heading to India to speak at a global change-makers conference.

On Friday night his remarkable leadership skills were acknowledged at the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards, where Johnson received a special leadership award.

"It was a huge honour," Johnson told the Sunday Star-Times yesterday. "It's not just a recognition of what's happened in the past, it's more a welcome to a club or alumni of people and there's an incredible expectation of your future and what you'll achieve. That's daunting, but it's also really, really exciting."

So what does the future hold for the Canterbury University student?

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Job offers have been flying in and there are opportunities aplenty for him on the international speaking circuit, but Johnson has decided his first priority is to finish his studies.

Part-way through a double degree in law and political science, he wants to get qualifications under his belt before he decides what his next move will be.

Although he sits on one of Christchurch's community boards, he doesn't harbour any secret ambition to be prime minister.

"I am genuinely interested in politics, but I won't go into politics until I find the footprint I want to leave here – I won't go into it for a career, or for personal gain. There is so much other stuff I want to do first," he said.

Sunday Star Times