“Middlesex Community College is fantastic because the people and professors care,” said Joshua Rivera, a 2016 business administration graduate originally from Moodus, Conn.
A lot matters to Joshua, who graduated from Nathan Hale-Ray High School in 2013. At that time, he wasn’t sure where to go to college, so he explored different scholarships and financial aid, which landed him at York College in Pennsylvania.
After a semester there, Joshua felt he could save money by attending Middlesex Community College. He was aware of the school because his mother, his main inspiration and support system, graduated from MxCC with a degree in general studies of science in 1999.
At first Joshua wanted to study engineering, but his uncle convinced him to pursue business management, saying it’s more universal and provides more advancement opportunities.
Joshua transferred most of his York credits and began taking classes as a full-time Middlesex student in 2014. Along with scholarships and financial aid, he also worked part-time to finance his tuition.
Though he primarily came to the Middletown campus just for his classes, Joshua praised several MxCC professors who he feels “prepared me for the next step in life.”
He is grateful to business professors Ben Boutaugh, Susan Lugli, and Patty Raymond for their personalized attention.
“Looking back, I now appreciate Professor Boutaugh’s extremely difficult class, essays and tests. The added pressure was what I needed to learn proper study habits and prepare for the future,” said Joshua.
“Sue Lugli was so inspirational and caring. I enjoyed our conversations just walking around campus after class,” he added. “And Patty Raymond was passionate and caring while trying to help me get ahead.”
As part of the associate degree program, Joshua completed an internship at Brown & Brown Insurance and also was hired to work there in the summer.
“As a student he was outstanding. Throughout his internship, he worked hard, displayed great attention to detail and excelled at any and all of the tasks and projects he was given,” noted Professor Lugli.
With a 4.0 GPA, Joshua received the academic achievement award in business administration and the highest GPA award at his commencement ceremony in 2016.
Though he was accepted at more expensive schools, Joshua transferred to Central Connecticut State University and earned a bachelor in science in business management in 2018. He then worked for Paychex, Inc., as a human capital management small business consultant. He and his team of 10 colleagues were one of the youngest in the country.
In 2019, Joshua discovered some success as a professional model. He will be appearing in a commercial for Hasbro, the toy company. He also studied and invested in stocks and trading options to pay off loans and build financial stability.
But then the pandemic slowed everything down, so he shifted gears and started studying for a real estate license—something he always wanted to pursue.
He hasn’t ruled out earning a master’s degree someday—and also a doctorate.
Along with the pandemic, 2020 really became a year that mattered to Joshua. He attended local town and campaign virtual meetings where diversity and inclusion topics came up as well as town funding and police brutality.
At one of those meetings, Joshua met Kevin Wilhelm, the executive director of the Middlesex United Way, and they became friends. Kevin encouraged Joshua to express his thoughts in a blog, which appeared in the Middletown Press and resonated with the community.
Joshua then became a member of the Middlesex United Way Board of Directors and also serves on its Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee.
“It is no surprise that Joshua is involved in the United Way and Black Lives Matter initiatives, because these causes are very personal to him. His experiences are real and powerful,” said Professor Lugli.
“At Middlesex, people care. You are not just a number,” Joshua reiterated. “I really believe it’s a great place to get an education.”