Joseph Letourneau, like many of our clients, faces great challenges every single day. He copes with both physical and intellectual disabilities, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to face and conquer another challenge!
On May 23, 2018, after seven years of studying, persistence and determination, Joseph finished 24 classes and graduated from Manchester Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts Education. He joined 400 other graduates (one of MCC’s biggest classes yet) and received his hard-earned diploma.
When asked what inspired him to pursue a higher education, he stated “I wanted a challenge, and I want to teach World Geography one day.” He has subscriptions to National Geographic and The Smithsonian and enjoys reading every single issue.
Joseph’s initial inspiration to pursue a college degree and become a teacher began with some of his own teachers at Goffstown High School, specifically his English teacher, Maureen Brown. “She always said she believed in me, and that I can achieve anything” Joseph said. He added, “and I believe the benefits of teaching children are great.” He credits his engaging Geography teacher, Josh Lewis, for his interest in Geography.
Joseph’s high school English teacher, Ms. Brown, remembers his days in her classroom and said this of his accomplishment: “It so aptly captures his spirit. I am so proud of Joseph and impressed with his self-determination and GRIT! I have such fond memories of Joe in the classroom: his love of poetry, knowledge of the galaxy, his respect of and patience with fellow students. One lasting effect was this modelling: Joseph approached senior English like it was his job, and came to class every day prepared and engaged. This quiet leadership, so to speak, impacted many of my students throughout the school year. Job well done, Joe!”
Joseph receives services in our Community Connections department (our Day Program) and has been working with his Life Skills Coach, Justin Vose, for four years. Joseph credits Justin’s dedicated effort as playing a key role in his success. Justin attended classes with him — both in-person and online — took notes, and helped him stay focused. In addition to the tactical support, Justin offered daily reassurance and encouragement.
Joseph’s mother, Deborah, also played a huge role in keeping Joseph on track and motivating him to keep studying. “Our next step is to do some research on the path to take for a Bachelor’s degree. We’re also focusing on exposing him to life-experience activities involving teaching, volunteering and recreational opportunities” Deborah said. She lets Joseph take the lead in making the decisions, but she’s a gentle adviser and his biggest fan.
After spending the last seven years in school, Joseph plans to take two years off to prepare for his next adventure of going from student to teacher. He’ll be swimming, which helps with his mobility, and hopes to volunteer at a therapeutic horse farm. He’s also learning how to play the organ and taking singing lessons, because not only does he love to sing, but it’s therapeutic for his lungs and his breathing. And if that’s not enough, he’s getting back into stargazing and spending more time with his telescope. That sounds like a jam-packed schedule and we’re so excited for Joseph as he continues on his path to success!
Joseph’s story is truly amazing and inspirational. We encourage all those we serve to set and achieve goals, and our talented and caring staff will be right there to help, every step of the way. Justin’s support of Joseph’s effort exemplifies the goal of all our Life Skills Coaches.
Congratulations to Joseph, and all those who supported his effort along the way. It’s only just begun!
If you’d like to explore a career as a Life Skills Coach, check out our Career Opportunities here.