It’s not always sunny days for new college students. Joshua Rule struggled that first year at UT Austin. So he moved back home, and the skies began to clear a little.
At least he knew what came next.
“I wanted to attend Tarrant County College to get my bearings,” he said, “and figure out how I wanted to proceed with my academic journey.”
Except things weren’t a lot better, not at first.
Taking classes at TCC Trinity River, both in person and online, all he could think about was how far he was in the back of the pack. He didn’t know what he wanted to study or what he would do once he finished. He felt lost.
“I needed to make up for the precious time I’d wasted since high school. I felt like I would always be behind, never catching up with my peers.”
By his second year at TCC, he realized he was putting too much pressure on himself. He learned to trust the process “to make it out on the other side.” Introductory classes led him to choose business as a major. Fate led him to Laura Escamilla as a mentor.
Both turning points proved to be a great fit.
Joshua credits the coordinator of the TCC Trinity River Transfer Center with smoothing his transfer to Texas Wesleyan University. “Laura helped walk me through things that were way over my head. She provided insightful information and allowed me to talk through decisions that were causing a lot of self-doubt. Overall, she had a big impact on the trajectory of my academic journey after TCC.”
That journey included becoming an enrollment counselor at Texas Wesleyan after he graduated with his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in computer information systems in 2021. Now instead of meeting with Laura as a student, Joshua met with her as a peer.
“She would always recommend students talk to me because I had recently gone through a lot of the same stuff,” he said. “We worked well together to simplify the transfer process for anyone who needed help or didn’t know where to start.”
Joshua simultaneously enrolled in Wesleyan’s online MBA program in data analytics. He completed his degree in December 2022 and wound up back at TCC as an analyst in Institutional Research the next summer.
He works on projects that provide insight from data associated with TCC. He summarizes student surveys, enrollment queries and other data requests from TCC employees.
“Josh has been a wonderful addition to the Institutional Research team. His fresh perspective on the student experience from his own time at TCC has provided a lens into the data that we were lacking — a personal touch,” said Liz Northern, director of research.
“We’re excited to watch him grow in his role as an employee. It’s evident in his demeanor and engagement with our work that he truly cares about TCC.”
And he’s having a fine time.
“I get to work with all kinds of interesting data and figure out ways to connect the dots and problem solve my way through different projects.”
Joshua says TCC played a role in his success by helping him gain stability and self-confidence. “I was able to establish a routine that worked for me and allowed me to take more control of my life.”
His advice for anyone, especially nontraditional students, charting their own academic journey? “Just run your race and never compare yourself to others. We can’t all fit into the same educational mold. If we’re all heading toward the same place, it doesn’t matter what path or how much time we take, so long as we get there in the end and are proud of our progress.”