"Not everyone who walks this earth has shoes to put their feet into, and that is one of the important lessons social justice has to teach us. I was wondering how I could help the world be a better place and social work came into frame. It was one of the best gateways I could find."
Josh's high school experience – combined with a military tour in Iraq – showed him the many ways people use differences as weapons. Josh sought an education that teaches him how to bring people together and move the world forward. He found it at St. Ambrose.
Josh grew up on a family farm outside Maquoketa, Iowa. Throughout high school, he questioned where and how he fit in with his peers. His experience serving in the U.S. Army broadened his appreciation for different cultures and gave him an awareness of inequity and marginalism in the world. While working on his associate's degree, a professor helped Josh realize he can be a force for change. "The more I learned about social work the more I wanted to become a social worker. I want to be a light to someone who is in a dark place," he says.
Josh is excited to be in the first cohort of the BSW program and chose SAU because of its successful, long-standing Master of Social Work program. "I knew the professors had been teaching MSW courses for a long time, so I was confident I would be taught by the best and by faculty who love what they do," he says. "I look forward to class, talking with my professors and classmates, and having ideas challenged in that way that turns your head."
What do you enjoy about your liberal arts education?
"My theology course is one of my favorites. At first, I questioned how this class would be for me, a gay man who has to study the Bible. But all of the things we've read and learned so far espouse the principles of social justice and that the Church is not about hate, but all about love. It has been an eye-opening experience," Josh says.
What is the impact of your BSW education?
Josh's education, focused on empowerment, is giving him the tools to act. "My goal is to spread social justice and what social justice means, not so much to make people feel guilty about what they aren't doing, but helping them understand what they can do." The perspective and skills he's gaining in the classroom will be shared with the community: Our BSW students complete 400 hours of fieldwork.
How do you envision your future?
Josh hopes to qualify for advanced standing so he can earn his MSW at SAU in one year instead of two. "Eventually, I want to be the director of a hospice care facility. I want to share the knowledge I gain with as many people as I can. I can make a big difference in this world. Not through money, but by enriching lives." he says. Here, that's the goal of education. "From my experience so far, I can't imagine another place that would be as great of a fit for me. It has been amazing. It's hard to describe the feeling of going through life wondering when will I find that place I feel I truly do fit in? When do I find my true purpose? I found it at St. Ambrose in the BSW program."