After his mother was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer, Joshua found his calling.
Science has been my favorite of all subjects, and in my opinion, the most useful, says Joshua Smith, the award winner for our first annual scholarship program. He knew from a young age that his life path would likely lead to a career in science, but it wasn’t until his family relied on science and bio-engineering to save the life of a loved one that he truly felt inspired.
A Lost Teammate
Joshua was interested in science from an early age. In his freshman year of high school, he decided to join the FIRST Robotics Competition. During that first year, one of his teammates unfortunately succumbed to cancer. Joshua was aware and affected by the ripples this made in his own life and the teammate’s family. He took action by doing work with Relay for Life, a cancer fundraiser hosted by the American Cancer Society, and continuing participating in the FRC team. He grew close with this former teammate’s family, helping whenever he was able. During this time, his eyes were also opened to the world of biomedical and mechanical engineering.
Next year, tragedy struck again where no one could have expected. His mother was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage II Breast Cancer.
Faced with the possibility of losing a family member and armed with his drive and perseverance, Joshua resolved to do “whatever I could to help her and all others with this disease in any way I could. He was determined to make a difference.
To Joshua, that meant pursuing a career in biomedical and mechanical engineering. I began to research some of the treatments and medicines my mother was receiving and I was intrigued, Joshua says. Everything he read about involved the subjects he loved, and it spoke to him on a brand new, much more personal level. I found a profession that would speak to both my strengths and interests as a student of science and my emotions as a human being. I believe improving the stretcher, scalpel or IV pump helps society in immeasurable ways and often is one of the best ways to repay the doctors and medical professionals, so many of us owe so much to.
Gratitude in ActionPart of his inspiration comes from the doctor who performed the surgery on his mother. He was originally an electrical engineer, but decided to go back to school and become a surgeon. Joshua felt he was indebted to him, as well as all medical professionals and patients, who gave his mother the opportunity to spend more time with him and his family. Joshua says, “I’m incredibly grateful for the work done by doctors and surgeons, and all those who have made their job possible.
And each doctor has worked no less than a few miracles for Mrs. Smith. After what could only be described as an exhausting round of surgery, chemotherapy, and medication for a tumultuous year, Joshua’s mother is now cancer-free. This has only deepened Joshua’s conviction that he’s chosen the right path for himself.
When we came across Joshua’s application, we deliberated long and hard before we selected it. There were a great many qualified and deserving individuals, but in the end Joshua’s heartwarming story, incredible drive, passion and achievements won out.
We awarded Joshua earlier this year but recently checked back on his progress out of interest. He is currently in mid-terms and has received all A’s on his exams. He and his mother fly fish, hike, white-water raft, and rock climb in fantastic Colorado outdoors.
"My love of science drives me and my love of humanity guides me" – Joshua Smith