McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Digital Media Arts major with a concentration in Multimedia
13-year Army veteran, President of Duquesne's Student Veterans of America chapter
On Sept. 11, 2001 Joshua heard the phone ring while at his grandparents house and it was his grandfather calling his grandmother. "She said, "They're bombing New York," and I was like you're crazy. I turned on the TV and I saw the second plane hit and I was like, wow. And I knew my life was gonna change at that point. It was just a matter of when," he said.
The California, PA native was a World War II buff growing up and joined the Army Reserves at 17 while still in high school. Joshua ended up dropping out of college after 9/11 and enlisted with the Army as an active duty soldier. He went on to serve 13 years and achieved the rank of sergeant.
In 2005 and 2006 Joshua was deployed to Afghanistan, working in flight operations for attack helicopters and air ambulances. He was also part of a task force that responded to the devastating earthquake that hit Pakistan's Kashmir region in October of 2005. During his tour part of he and his team's mission was to deploy helicopters to help get wounded servicemembers to the hospital. "One of our helicopters crashed and killed five of my buddies," he said. Joshua first noticed the effects of PTSD when he was stationed in Germany afterwards. "It started creeping into my life," he said.
PTSD really took over after he arrived back in the U.S. following his Afghanistan deployment. He was told that he would be being deployed again, this time to Iraq. "And I was like, I'm done. I'm ready to just go back home and go to school for awhile. I came home in 2008 and ended up getting three DUIs." He was reintroduced to Duquesne through the Veterans Clinic, which operates through the Duquesne University School of Law's Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education. He also experienced homelessness and depression as he struggled to get his life back on track.
Joshua enrolled at Duquesne after he finished with Veterans Court and earning his Associate's Degree from CCAC. "Duquesne has been nothing but great," he says. Since here he has become the Duquesne University Student Veterans of America president and last year he and two other student veterans attended the 11th Annual Student Veterans of America National Conference in Orlando, FL. They made lots of contacts there, one veteran got an internship out of it, and they got ideas for how to improve their study spaces in the Duquesne Office for Veteran and Military Students. "I want guys to come hang out down there. It can be tough being on campus sometimes. Some places are super crowded. We don't exactly blend in with these younger kids so it's like, where can I go to be around people like me." This year SVA is looking to bring five veterans to the national conference in Los Angeles. They have teamed up with Duquesne University Spirit - Crowdfunding again on a campaign to help raise the money.
He and the other student veterans are also looking to increase their outreach to other student veterans and veterans who are looking to go to college in the Pittsburgh area. "To me it's not about which school is better, it's about what's the better fit for the veteran."
On his time at Duquesne he says, "I don't think I would have made it through college if it wasn't for all the good people that are here." He also appreciates the help and mentoring he has had from Don Accamando, Director, Office of Military and Veteran Students. "I think what separates us from other schools and why I like Duquesne a lot more is that I can actually talk to my professors. I don't have a grad assistant teaching me. You know, life happens, especially like in my case, so I can reach out to my teachers, say, hey, you know, I'm having some problems, how can we work through this? I'm not one of 500 people. The Office of Disability Services also works with us and they're phenomenal. You can tell people actually care here."
Joshua has two more classes to finish before he graduates and he wants to put his Digital Media Arts degree to use even before he leaves Duquesne. He will be starting a podcast series about veterans and the military this spring and also wants to incorporate video into it as well.
Through it all Joshua remains an optimistic person and wants to continue to help, inspire and be there for this and future generations of veterans. "Some people think it's a bad thing that Afghanistan ended my (military) career and I think it just opened a lot of doors."