TFP Brain Gain series: Grad student helps next generationWritten by Lori Golaszewski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping high school students get on the right track for a college education is all part of a day’s work for Joel Todd. Todd is a guidance coordinator for UT’s Upward Bound Program, which helps low-income and first-generation college students make a successful transition from high school to college. Todd assists students with their college searches, helps them choose their majors and makes sure they complete their ACT or SAT tests and financial aid applications.
“What is rewarding is working with students who may have some challenges or barriers to their own success and helping them to realize their fullest potential,” Todd said.
Born in Washington, D.C., but raised in Mansfield, Todd came to Toledo to pursue his undergraduate degree at UT. He started out in early childhood education, but switched majors and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2007. He is studying for his master’s degree in community counseling at UT.
“Being a graduate of UT, I am definitely a champion for UT,” he said. “I had a very good undergrad experience, and I like to pass that on to our [Upward Bound] students. We try to remind them that they don’t always have to go far away from home to get a great college experience.”
Todd made the most of his undergrad years by getting involved in numerous student organizations, including the Student African American Brotherhood, Black Student Union and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He also was a member of Blue Key and Golden Key national honor societies and served as a student trustee on the UT Board of Trustees.
In addition, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and traveled to Bay St. Louis, Miss., during an alternative spring break to assist rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
“I was pretty active in high school, but not as much as in college,” Todd said. “I wanted to make my college experience something that would be memorable and also put myself in different positions to have some great networking opportunities and just connect with good people.”
Todd credits his father and grandmother with being instrumental to his success and teaching him to be of service to others in the community.
“My dad and grandmother were always pushing me to that next level,” he said. “Coming to Toledo and being around other like-minded people on campus, and through my church also, pushed me to that next level.”
He strives to offer that same guidance to the two students he mentors at Lincoln Academy for Boys and to his little brother in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio.
Todd is scheduled to graduate from UT in spring or summer 2010, but isn’t sure what the future holds.
“Toledo hasn’t given me any reason to leave; I can say that definitely,” he said.
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