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Meet Morning Spring Commencement Speaker Clancy Johnston

A double major in finance and accountancy, graduation speaker Clancy Johnston grew up on a ranch in New Plymouth, Idaho.

Johnston came to Boise State as an Alumni Legacy Scholar and has racked up awards throughout his academic career. Those include being named a finalist in the recent Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge where student teams pitched their business ideas to compete for seed money. Johnston also won the College of Innovation Pitch Competition in 2017, and has been named to the Dean’s List with High Honors two times during his Boise State career. He will graduate cum laude.

Johnston has engaged with his community as well, most notably as “that guy who gives free hugs on the Quad” to passers-by – his own way, he said, of giving people some support in tumultuous times. He has served an officer in the Idaho FFA Association, the local chapter of the national youth organization. Johnston has given keynote speeches, attended government events, leadership workshops and advocated for the agriculture industry while serving on the board of directors. He’s an active member of student organizations, serving as a past president for Cru, a campus ministry, and as an officer of the student-led Financial Management Association at Boise State.

Garrett McBrayer, an assistant professor in the Department of Finance, described Johnston as “an incredible addition to the finance program,” while praising Johnston’s contributions to the classroom, his willingness to help peers struggling with material, as well as to work his way through difficult material himself. McBrayer wrote a letter supporting Johnston’s application to be commencement speaker.

“To give you an example of his vision for the organization, FMA, under Clancy’s direction, launched a stock market trading competition where COBE students can build their financial knowledge and hone their investment skills,” wrote McBrayer.

The project, said Johnston, “was a way for students to apply their learning in a real world way and learn what it looks like to create high growth in a small period of time.” The project drew about 100 student participants.

McBrayer also praised Johnston’s character. “Clancy is dependable, unassuming, and trustworthy. Perhaps what I enjoy most about him, however, is that while he is ambitious he does not suffer from any sense of entitlement — rather common in college students.”

Clancy Johnston

Johnston has been involved with nonprofit organizations beyond campus, including volunteer work with the Idaho Rescue Mission, Idaho Special Olympics, and several others. He’s a business person in his own right, owner since 2014 of CJ’s Mobile DJ, a company that provides services for weddings, school and other events. Johnston started the business when he was a junior in high school. The business, he said, paid a lot of his college bills.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur,” Johnston said. “I was the kid who would sell pencils at recess instead of playing.”

In addition to the DJ company, he also owned and operated Fashion City Exchange, an Eagle resale clothing store, handling inventory and marketing. The Idaho Statesman, The Idaho Business Review, The Huffington Post have written features about Johnston and his business ventures.

He’s put his talents for presentations to work on campus as well. For two years, he’s been the emcee for the Executive and Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum, a meeting for top student and local industry leaders at the Steuckle Sky Center. His future plans include working on an agriculture technology start-up he founded to help ranchers better manage their herds, and working with Aphesis, a local ministry.

The morning commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. in Taco Bell Arena.