The Humanitarian & Educational Relief Operation (H.E.R.O.) Project was legally established in 2016 by Dr. Malieka Johnson a General and Adult Special Needs Dentist. Dr. Johnson graduated from UCLA School of Dentistry in 2011 and completed a 1-year general practice residency that further delayed the initiation of her student loan debt repayment. In 2012, she accepted a position in a community health center where she was told she would definitely receive student loan repayment assistance.
Dr. Johnson soon discovered a different reality for many young professional graduates entering their careers, corporate false promises exist. And only after applying multiple times for state and federal loan repayment programs and being declined did Dr. Johnson learn another truth. Government programs don't have nearly enough funding to provide awards and the method for determining who gets such awards in questionable. As such, she decided to take a different approach.
While aggressively paying down her debt, she began a personal campaign titled "The Letter Project". Dr. Johnson, motivated by the fear and anxiety of being trapped by this debt, mailed individual letters to organizations and individuals requesting help with her debt. After multiple rejections and recommendations, she realized she would not be the only professional graduate student to experience this and created The H.E.R.O. Project, as an alternative approach to navigating life with graduate student loan debt. The H.E.R.O. Project is looking for scholars, donors, and partners in this grassroots movement to buffer the effects of the student loan debt burden. Dr. Johnson believes by teaching skills in self-governance and the responsibility of civic duty that we will continue to perpetuate inter-generational upward mobility and become the change we wish to see within our selves and our communities.