Essex 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.”