Case Study: 20-Year-Old University Student, Josh Proves Believing Is Key to Achieving

Josh never imagined he would be school captain or give the valedictory speech, but in Year 12 his dreams came true and life is looking a whole lot brighter.

Growing up in Braybrook, Josh comes from a large family – with five siblings and 12 nieces and nephews. He was the middle child and described himself as pretty shy when he was young.

That all changed for Josh, when he took the first step to put himself out there.

“I’d never played sport, but always had a love of basketball. My brother joined Redskins and when I saw him play, I wanted to play as well. I was about 15 years old when I started playing in a team. My brother and I would organise our own training and we loved it.”

Josh explains that when he was younger, he was overweight and was very self-conscious about what people would think of him.

“Basketball was the start of my weight loss journey. I got fitter and healthier and even started doing better at school. But the main thing that turned my life around, was my experience with the EMBRACE program,” says Josh.

“In the past, I had never put my hand up for things – so even though I was always doing well at school, I didn’t feel like I was participating or contributing.

“One of the biggest things I learnt from the EMBRACE program is to take up opportunities when they are on the table. What’s the worst thing that could happen?” he asks.

His experience with EMBRACE, led him to an opportunity to join the Les Twentyman Foundation’s Trek-2-Konnect program where a group of youth and police trained and completed the Kokoda trail.

At the same time, his school was looking for new school captains. Josh contemplated putting his hand up for but wasn’t sure that he could do it. EMBRACE and Kokoda gave him the courage and the confidence to put his hand up and have a go.

“I was at my fittest. We were training for Kokoda and I thought to myself if I’m going to do the hardest trek in the world, then I can do this.”

Josh is full of admiration and respect for the EMBRACE program. He credits his changed attitude and confidence to the skills he learnt through EMBRACE. At 20 years of age, he’s studying a five-year Bachelor of Business, International Trade and Marketing at Latrobe University and keeps himself busy with work, entrepreneur businesses, sport and music.

His goal is to build financial security for the future and to be a role model for his siblings and nieces and nephews.

Growing up, Josh didn’t have a father figure in his life but he had ‘two mums’ – his mum and older sister who provided for the children ensuring that there was always food on the table.

“I certainly wasn’t from a privileged family, but we weren’t broke. There were some hard years where we struggled but my mum and sister worked hard and looked after the family.”

When Josh’s younger brother passed away last year, it strengthened his passion to see young people “rise up to do big things, great things”. Losing his brother has pushed him to really make the most of his life and he wants to see other young people have the same opportunities.

In particular, Josh wants to see more investment from government and other agencies in diverting kids away from the youth justice system.

“There’s lots of kids going through hard times and sometimes they can get into trouble and go down the wrong path. We need to turn their energies into something good, like playing sport or getting into music.”

“Kids need to be supported to find the right path because many of them can get themselves in trouble with the law and that’s not going to get you anywhere except locked up.

“If we can just show these kids the possibilities. They’re a little lost and need help to find their way,” says Josh.