By Esther Fernandez and Becky St. Clair
“There was violence in my neighborhood every day. So I made a change.”
Senior business major and student athlete Joshua Mitchell grew up in South Bronx in New York City. Though he, like most people, harbors hometown pride, he also acknowledges the impoverishment that makes his neighborhood what it is. Although many of his friends have been killed or incarcerated, Mitchell has always been determined that his life would be different.
In October 2019, that determination earned him a spot at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute. After two video interviews and two in-person interviews before the conference board, he was invited to participate in the event taking place in Washington, D.C. This included an all-expenses paid trip, with five nights in the Washington Marriott Wardman Park—an experience Mitchell laughingly describes as “too bougie”—multiple forks and all.
The Thurgood Marshall conference offered networking opportunities with both businesses and graduate school recruiters. Fortune 500 companies like AIG, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and P Morgan Chase had representatives networking with students and giving talks on what it takes to be financially successful.
“Some interviewers even gave me their personal cell phone numbers for future reference,” Mitchell adds. “They asked me to call them once I graduate.”
On the third day of the conference, Mitchell himself gave a presentation about financial literacy in front of thousands of people.
“Financial literacy is how to create wealth and generational income,” he explains. “It’s how to give back to your community by teaching others how to invest in different types of assets like properties and stocks.”
Mitchell’s impoverished neighborhood, though physically on the other side of the country from PUC, continues to sit at the forefront of his mind while he completes his studies.
“Getting out of a bad situation is not enough,” he says. “You have to go back and help. Remember where you came from.”
The conference gave him the opportunity to network with people who can help him make a difference back home. Mitchell hopes these valuable connections will help him in his goal to start his own nonprofit back in South Bronx—an organization that will offer business advice and help people get started, thus breaking generational poverty.
“By working hard myself, I believe others will be inspired to do the same,” he says. He emphasizes the need to keep his organization no-charge: “You shouldn’t have to pay for knowledge.”
Mitchell is grateful for the Christian environment at PUC, which eliminates distractions such as parties that take place regularly at other schools.
“Where I come from, people only know three things: violence, drugs, and poverty,” he says. “Here at PUC I have a clear mind. I play basketball and I study, and I really feel I can get stuff done. I come from the worst part of my city, yet I’m successful academically. I’m not an anomaly. I encourage everyone to look at student athletes not just from the outside but also as people just like them who want to better themselves.”
This is an edited version of the original story published in PUC’s Campus Chronicle on Nov. 14, 2019.
Top of page: PUC senior business major and student athlete Joshua Mitchell was selected through a competitive process to participate in and present for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., last fall.