Joshua is a Hopkins grad student pursuing a combined BS/MSE in mechanical engineering. He talks with Hopkins Insider about his path from the Navy to our Whiting School of Engineering. 

This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Why did you join the Navy? 

I originally wanted to be a nuclear engineer on one of the carriers, but I ended up being a radar operator instead. 

What brought you to Hopkins?   

I got out of the Navy in 2019. I went to a community college for two years in San Diego. At that time, my roommate, who’s also my current roommate (he’s a biophysics PhD student here), realized that we were both excelling [in community college]—we could apply to some of these top programs and have a decent shot of being accepted.

I applied to a bunch of programs and visited different schools. I toured Hopkins and told somebody I met on campus that I wanted to do physics, and they suggested I talk to [someone in] the department. They sent [the department head] an e-mail and almost immediately he said, “Yeah, come by and we can talk about it.” 

To get that level of attention was huge because I didn’t get any attention like that at any other school. I sat with [the department head] for two hours and he walked through the whole program. I was genuinely impressed by his gesture.   

Why did you decide to pursue mechanical engineering? 

I was going to do physics, which is what I originally applied to at Hopkins, but I’ve always wanted to be an engineer. Mechanical engineering piqued my interest due to its potential applications across various industries. Its versatility makes it a valuable skill set to possess in almost any career.  

How was the transition from your community college to Hopkins?

It was a little tough, at least at first. I transferred in as a sophomore. I had to play catch up a little bit, so I was taking quite a few classes. I also transferred in with seven other mechanical engineering students, which is not really common. They’re all awesome. I wouldn’t have done as well as I did without them. 

What was it like transferring as a veteran? 

The fact that I was 27 when I got here, so I was almost 10 years older than everybody else, was strange, definitely. Nevertheless, I was fortunate to have a group of fellow transfer students, which made the transition smoother. 

Was there an influential person you encountered throughout your college journey? 

When I was in community college, I was in a STEM program and the director of that program was inspirational. He single-handedly changes the lives of his students. All the people in his program go on to top schools, which is kind of crazy considering it’s just a small community college in San Diego. He teaches his students mental toughness, self-advocacy, and to approach coursework in specific ways that make his students succeed.  

What advice would you give other veterans or service members considering Hopkins?

I can definitely say you should apply to any program you might be slightly interested in and check out the school to see if it’s the right fit for you.