Phoenix, AZ – Joey Graham, 19 and a student at Estrella Community College, says if he didn’t change his life in his early teens he would likely have ended up dead or in prison.
“I was a troubled kid and I was pretty bad. One day I just said ‘enough’ and started making better choices.”
Joey grew up in Colfax, Illinois and graduated high school there before enrolling in Estrella Mountain Community College in Phoenix, “My father moved out to Arizona three years ago and I just wanted to finish high school in Illinois – but I also wanted to move out here to pursue new opportunities, and I hate the cold so I wanted to move here because it’s warm.”
Joey is in the process of transferring to the University of Arizona to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Physiology, with a long-term career goal of working as a physical therapist, “I’ve gone through physical therapy my whole life due to the injuries that I’ve had – so I just kind of got the feeling of it and I love to help people, and I find the body super-interesting. So, helping people and learning new stuff about the body, and you add those together and physical therapy came out.”
Joey says community college helped to prepare him for a U of A, “Community college is a good starting point, I believe, for all students before you go to a university. Community college is smaller and it helps you have your own foundation so you get in the flow and figure your life out in a number of areas. And then you can transfer all of that knowledge and experience to a university.”
Joey adds that moving from Illinois to Arizona was a pretty smooth transition, “Oh no, it hasn’t been difficult. I’m very outgoing so it was just another opportunity where I could meet a whole bunch of other people. It’s been great – during my first semester I met the whole school.”
He says college does have its challenges, “The hardest thing is to keep pushing forward because it can be so easy to just stop and give up. Because there can be so much work and everything, depending upon your load, so I think just getting enough sleep and rest can be a major challenge for all college students.”
Joey has some advice for middle and high school students considering college, “I would tell them to go with their gut and instinct as to where they feel would be the best. Go to school for you and just finish out and push through it, and work as hard as you can. Also, start now with getting good grades, because if you get good grades that transfers over and it’s less money that you’re going to have to spend for college.”
Joey is among the many hard-working students receiving specialized mentoring services from College Success Arizona. Essentially, “Success Advisers” work with the young scholars, helping them overcome academic and personal challenges.