College Graduate, B.S. in Business Management
Josh knows not to take anything he has in life for granted. He grew up in the foster care system with his twin and older brothers, and was eventually adopted into an already large family. He remembers with a smile, “The house was almost never quiet, with a lot of people always going in and out.”
While he did not know his father, Josh was in a supportive family environment. He developed a tight knit relationship with both his biological and adoptive mothers, as well as his uncle who he looked up to as a father figure. He most certainly did not have a conventional upbringing, but this did not deter him from achieving his goals.
In elementary school, Josh began to recognize the ever-growing presence of violence in his own community. His closest friends would confide in him that they did not feel safe going outside to walk to school, or play outdoors. Josh recalls, “A neighborhood school was shut-down due to violence and gang activity... it became more difficult for my friends and I to see each other.” However, his optimism was a catalyst to succeed.
Determined to continue his education after high school, Josh attended Nassau Community College for one semester only to discover that it was not an ideal fit for him. “I was a bit lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, so I took a semester off and realized that I still had much more I wanted to learn.”
It was then that two of Josh’s friends, already enrolled in YouthBuild Long Island, confided how much Josh could benefit from the program. He took their advice and his life’s path changed. Josh explains, “YouthBuild actually gave my life direction and a path to follow.” It gave him the courage and confidence needed to achieve his academic and career goals.
It was in YouthBuild that Josh gained the structure, individualized support, as well as career and leadership training needed to provide him clarity on deciding his next steps. Upon graduation “I was offered a full-time position with a construction company. I decided to put this opportunity on hold because I was ready to return to college and take business management courses.”
After his application and acceptance to St. Thomas Aquinas College, Josh moved to Rockland County, NY to begin his four-year adventure. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. With a bright future ahead, he is proud that he chose YouthBuild to be a part of his journey… he is the first person in his family to receive a college degree. “Walking across my college graduation stage was such a relief, it showed me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
His career goal is to work in the hospitality industry, especially because he enjoys collaborating in teams to work towards a common goal. “You have the potential to brighten someone’s day by having a positive outlook and that is incredibly rewarding.” He realizes that to succeed in the hospitality industry, “you need to have a stellar reputation and have skills that others will learn and benefit from.” Josh is looking forward to getting his foot in the door and beginning his career.
Josh is a 2015 recipient of Anthony J. Stupore Memorial Scholarship.
YouthBuild Long Island is a signature program of United Way of Long Island, dedicated to changing the path of Long Island’s youth by addressing the core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development.