Joshua Johnson performs during the grand opening of the CFES center in Essex May 10.
Joshua Johnson thought he was going to be a basketball player, even up until his senior year of high school.
“I had centered my whole life in basketball,” Johnson said to those who attended the grand opening of the College For Every Student Center in Essex May 10. “CFES helped me to re-direct my path and made me focus on school and getting my grades up.”
Johnson also started to hone another one of his talents, using tap dancing as a way to start building a college fund that he would eventually use to pay his way into Penn State University.
“I really was not supposed to be a Penn State student,” Johnson said. “When four of my best friends applied, I figured that I would to and I ended up being the first to get accepted.”
Johnson then went to work in the subways and streets of New York City, dancing for money to help pay for his dream.
“Financials was always the problem,” he said. “Right before my first year, I was about $2,000 shy of what I needed. I called Karen and Rick to share my concern and they wrote me a check to help me out.”
Still, Johnson continued to tap for tuition, making the five-hour commute between Happy Valley and his New York home to dance on the weekends. As people started to learn about his story, Johnson started to be featured on television shows, eventually ending up on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“Without the Dalton’s and CFES, I would not be in college preparing for my senior year or on Ellen with my talents,” Johnson said. “This is just one of the many ways CFES shows love to the students it works with, especially those who are struggling.”
Johnson performed for those at the event, and told people to “discover something they enjoy and then figure out how you can add a re-mix to it.”
Also on hand at the celebration was Shameka Cobb, who also attended high school in New York City and was preparing to enter her final year at the Cornell Medical School.
“I never thought I would be here today,” Cobb said. “I just wanted to get a job anywhere I could that would help out my single mother.”
Cobb said that CFES helped her map out a plan in high school that allowed her to accomplish her goals in college as she progresses towards a medical degree.
“There is so much that they have done for me,” she said. “It is so great to see the growth of this organization as I have watched the growth of my own career. I am thankful when I think about everything that they have done for me.”
Angel Acosta also spoke about his experience with CFES after his family had moved from the Dominican Republic in the 1980s.
“I had been in five different schools in three different boroughs of the city when I was invited to be a part of the CFES leadership team,” Acosta said. “I remember my first trip to Middlebury College and how that opened my mind up to the possibility of going to college.”
Acosta ended up going to Plattsburgh State University, where he graduated in 2008. He also served as vice president and president of Student Government at the school.