Joshua Lazenby: on track with TRiO

When Joshua Lazenby graduated from Proviso West High School in 2011, the future looked pretty bright. He had been accepted at Northern Illinois University and had plans to pursue Biomedical Engineering. After gaining a little college classroom experience and a greater knowledge of engineering, he shifted his focus to Electrical Engineering. After a couple semesters, the financial reality of a university education hit. Joshua left school to work and earn some much-needed cash.

Joshua Lazenby

Then a friend recommended Kishwaukee College. In Spring 2016, Joshua enrolled at Kish and everything realigned. He joined the TRiO Student Support Services Program and found himself back on track.

“When I got the email at Kish from TRiO, I thought that it sounded like something that would help me out, not just at Kish, but for years to come,” he recalled. He applied to the program, was accepted and has never looked back.

Keith Wise, the Director of TRiO Student Support Services, summed up the program, “The TRiO program’s main focus is to help students further their college dream by providing them with assistance in various areas. We support them academically through academic advising and tutoring, college visits and cultural enrichment trips. We also provide them assistance with career planning.” 

Joining TRiO Student Support Services made a significant impact on Joshua. “It really helped me regain my confidence and taught me how to ask for help,” he explained. “I realized I can’t do it by myself. There are people to help and support me and I need to connect to them.”

Joshua met regularly with Kim Green, Academic Coordinator with TRiO Student Support Services. She helped Joshua with his university applications – completing fee waivers, reviewing scholarship essays, and writing recommendations in support of his applications. But, more importantly, Kim was someone Joshua could bounce ideas off and who could help him identify options available to him and make the best decision.

Kim stated, “Joshua is a “master” of research. He is resourceful and uses all his connections to his benefit which is an awesome trait to have at his age! He doesn’t give up, doesn’t settle, and he pushes himself to do better. My role was to listen and help him analyze his choices.” Joshua added, “Kim and the staff would ask me the questions I needed to consider. They asked me questions I didn’t even know I needed to ask myself before making a decision.”

Joshua juggled many roles while at Kish: engineering student, Student Ambassador, and Hampton Inn employee. “I worked the night shift at the Hampton, took early morning classes and stayed active on campus. Basically, I slept whenever I could find my bed!”

The hard work with the support of the TRiO Student Support Services program paid off in May when Joshua Lazenby walked across the stage at graduation at Kishwaukee to claim his hard-earned diploma. One week later, he was at Kent State University with Keith Wise and four other TRiO students for the Men of Excellence weekend workshop, leading a session and providing guidance as a college graduate and TRiO participant.

Joshua is still making his final decision on where to continue his path to becoming an engineer. “One thing I learned is that it doesn’t matter where you go to college as much as what experiences you have while you are there,” he said. “The amazing people who work with TRiO Student Support Services at Kish really made my college experience the best it could be. They honestly want to see you succeed - it is like a one-stop shop for college success.”