Joshay Jones has not had a fairytale college experience. What this 2014 Meritus Scholar describes as a “hectic” first semester at CSU Long Beach was profoundly shaped by tragedy and loss. When two friends died in quick succession — one the victim of gun violence, the other of an automobile accident — Joshay found herself spiraling into despair. Soon, she had dropped out of her classes and returned home to San Francisco’s Bayview, not sure if college was the right choice after all.
Such a setback, particularly for a first-generation college student like Joshay, could easily turn into a permanent derailment. But Joshay is surrounded by people who believe in her future: a proud mother and younger sisters who will go to college themselves one day. With their help, Joshay found the strength she needed to return for the spring semester. Through the tumult of her months away from school, Joshay had the unwavering support of Meritus College Fund, the organization she calls one of the “pillars” of her college experience.
Joshay specifically credits Nicolas Rosa, her Meritus staff advisor. “Nic has been a blessing to my life,” she explains, “someone I can talk to when things go haywire…He makes sure to let me know that Meritus is always going to be there for me.” During weekly check-ins through the remainder of her first year, Nic helped make sure that Joshay had a successful transition back to college.
Now in her second year at CSU Long Beach, Joshay is optimistic about her future. Her college life today is not without its challenges — including a particularly stressful tangle with the financial aid office — but she no longer worries that she doesn’t belong in higher education. When she steps on campus these days, Joshay is sure she deserves to be there.