(TAMPA, Fla.) — An athlete, a scholar, and an aspiring journalist, Joshua McDonald is 19 years old and a sophomore at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Normally, he’d already be established at school, but McDonald is also part of the high school class of 2020. He graduated at the height of the pandemic, so his college experience has been anything but normal.
He spent his freshman year at home due to campus closures. So that left him time to get a job and volunteer with the journalism program at his old high school. But trying to study in college and balance home life proved hard on him and his anxiety. It led to academic issues, failing grades, and even academic probation.
“I was extremely upset, and there were times where that kind of cause me to lose my motivation,” said McDonald. “It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened.”
That also meant that Josh couldn’t play football for Morehouse. And while that left him feeling discouraged, Josh knew how to deal with his failures — keep an eye on the goal, his future. This included getting to campus and fully embracing college life.
“I’m moving forward now, getting my grades better,” he said. His grades are high enough now to practice with the team, but he spent a good portion of this last season as a sideline reporter, blending his loves of football and journalism.
And this year is shaping into a true college experience for McDonald, bringing along with it maturity and a positive outlook. He’s embraced his mistakes and is open about them so that he can help someone else in a similar situation.
“It sometimes takes a toll on me,” he said, “but for every time that I feel like there’s no point, I also remember that I already made it past the first step — I’m still here.”
McDonald also looked to his tight knit group of family and friends, both in his hometown of Tampa and the ones he made at Morehouse. “You’re never really alone,” he said, “people may tell you that you’re all alone when you go off to college but that’s never the case. You’re never truly by yourself. There are plenty of people who are willing to help you, plenty of people willing to talk to you. What matter is who you choose talk to and who you choose to handle it.”
In the end, he keeps focus on his goal, getting that college degree and becoming a writer. “I want to tell stories,” he said. “But I also know that I want to give people the truth.”
His current dream job? An ESPN Sports Reporter.