Live, learn, and embrace fresh starts. That was the exact mindset that Josh Strnad, of Rio, had when he came to Moraine Park. As a first-generation college student, with a lifetime of real-world experiences and circumstances under his belt, he knew that the opportunity of obtaining a degree was his ultimate goal.
“I’ve lived a rough life,” Josh said. “I’ve made choices that haven’t always had a positive result, but when I came to Moraine Park, I immediately felt welcomed, regardless of my past.”
Josh found the College through the Department of Vocational Rehab, as he was transitioning from his life in prison back to civilian life. He was able to meet with the Career Center staff at Moraine Park and take a career assessment. Through that, he discovered that the civil engineering path would be a good fit for him.
When he began classes that fall, it didn’t take long for him to find a second home at the Fond du Lac campus. He joined the Student Senate and the District Student Government, where he served as Lt. Governor and then Governor. It was through these groups that he developed a strong support system.
“We are like a family,” Josh said. “Moraine Park and my peers have helped to give me a new life direction.”
Josh will graduate this May with his associate degree in Civil Engineering.
“I’m proud of myself,” he said. “Everything I’ve done up until this point, I’ve never finished. I now can eliminate that negativity and say that I’m a college graduate!”
Josh’s college journey wasn’t always easy. He utilized many resources, from the student success center to student life, to help make graduation possible.
“I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought,” Josh said. “Overall, I’ve learned how to be a team player, a good communicator, and how to adapt in different work atmospheres.”
Anyone who knows Josh understands that his life transformation didn’t happen by chance. He was given opportunities and took advantage of them all, from college courses in prison to opportunities to give back today.
“I believe that everyone deserves a second chance,” he said. “According to most statistics, I shouldn’t be where I am today. Now, I’ve learned not only how to be successful, but that I deserve to be.”
At the College, Josh is known to many as a father figure, giving endless advice, guidance, and a shoulder to lean on if necessary.
“Surround yourself with good people,” Josh said. “Ask for help, never give up, and focus on what motivates you. One of my main motivations is my daughter, Emma. I hope one day that she will see what I’ve done and be motivated to do well her life, too.”
Josh has aspirations to continue his education, with an overall goal to work as a plumbing design engineer.
“You never know the best you, until you’ve seen the worst you,” Josh said. “I’m proud to say, that today I’m the best version of me.”