Sara and Newton Anderson Scholarship for Excellence Recipient
“Yes and no. Yes it was a surprise, of course, because being able get a scholarship, especially a selective one, it’s always an honor. And no, because I feel like I’ve worked hard enough to deserve it. So, yeah.
I am a stutterer; so I don’t like talking. It was worse when I was a kid. Really worse. And my 5th grade graduation, I had to make a speech. I really didn’t want to do it at all. But, they, they didn’t let me out of it, so…I just had to learn how to make a speech. So, I think they told me probably like two weeks before. So, in those two weeks, I wrote my speech, I practiced…a lot. And…I watched videos, and I had tips from my family, my parents. I think they were a really big factor in helping me out. They were very supportive because they knew that I don’t like talking in front of people. I mean, like, at all.
I haven’t really overcome it, I just…did enough to get through it. It’s never really gone away, that sense of fear, just talking to anybody. I’ve learned to tolerate it, to deal with it. It’s always been there.
When it comes to like being social, it can be a factor. Because I know, especially this age, you know, being social, talking to people, conversing…you know you have to talk to people and connect with people, in order to get what you want sometimes. That’s not something I’m good at. So…in that way it’s held me back.
But, you know, of course, I try. I try. I’ve been alright.
The Move On When Ready program with Middle Georgia State, it’s basically a program which allows students to take college classes while still in high school. So the reason I did it was, well, a few reasons…it’s like the best thing I’ve ever done, honestly. Because, for one, it’s free. They pay for everything, like everything. It’s not very selective, it’s just, if you’re good enough, you’re in. You have to want to do it.
So, I started summer 2015…I’m basically a full-time college student. I’m never really here. And, my friends always pick on me ‘cause I always miss out on things here. They say, ‘Joseph, you should come to school more.’ I do come to school; just not this one!
My counselor was great…she was there for me the whole way. She’s been a great help. I’m really thankful for her. Having someone like that who supports you, who wants you to make it, it’s great. It’s nice to have someone who wants you to make it. Like, ‘OK, if you need this, I’ve got you.’
Mr. Scott, outside of family, he’s probably been the largest influence on me. Not just music-wise, but in education, in life. The sort of morals he keeps, he passes that on to us. What he’s taught me, it’s been a driving force. Just to work hard and to stay focused. Always set goals for yourself.
The family I was raised in, education was just number one. And, especially coming from a middle-class family and knowing the price of college these days, it’s really important to be able to get a head-start and save as much as you can in the process. So, that was the initial spark…just that need to save money and just get it done. Of course, there’s also the self want. And also the fact that I just got tired of high school.
After my sophomore year, it just became mundane. The only thing I really liked was band. That was really the only reason I even got up in the morning. I play the tuba. I’m still in the marching band. It’s just fun. I mean, even though it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat and sun…being able to come together with a group of people and make music and have fun and just turn up…it’s great…that sense of, just that feeling, that emotion that comes with it.
So, college is that next step. I will have roughly 70 credits. I will be a junior at Georgia Tech this fall. I chose Georgia Tech for several reasons. I didn’t want to go out of state, ‘cause it’s too expensive. There aren’t many schools that have engineering. When I got accepted to Georgia Tech, I was really grateful. I’m really looking forward to starting there.
Disappointments…the things that I’ve done that I consider disappointments might not be from another perspective because the bar was set so high for me. Growing up in a Nigerian household, it’s a stereotype that Nigerian parents are really strict on their kids about education. So, because of that, the bar was set really high for me. I’m the youngest. I have five, two brothers and three sisters. And sometimes, I might not reach that bar, but that’s ok because…even if you fall short, you’re still at the top. I’ve sometimes fallen short…but because the bar’s so high, it doesn’t look that way. The way I look at it, is like, ‘Oh, I could’ve done more.’ When I do fall short, I just try harder next time.
How my parents would describe me? Hmm…that’s a tough question. I know they’re really proud of me. These are not really accomplishments, they’re more expectations. Like, I’m supposed to graduate high school. I’m supposed to go to college and get a job. Those are milestones, but in my mind those things are almost like a barrier. Like I need to finish those things so I can do this. After I’m done with one thing, there’s something else. I’m almost never satisfied.”
Story written by Susannah Maddux. Photo by Maryann Bates.
“I know I’m not, like, Sheldon Cooper smart. But…the type of research that the people on that show do…that’s something I strive to do. I want to be one of the people who makes a significant contribution to the medical field.