The finance sophomore rose above his circumstances to become an SDSU leader.
Finance sophomore Joshua Morse wears many hats on campus — champion surfer, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member and campus leader.
He is also a former foster child from a dysfunctional home who was able to rise above his circumstances.
The trouble for San Diego-born Morse and his family started when he was 5 and his father abandoned him, his mother and two sisters. Shortly thereafter, his mother was arrested and the family lost their home, forcing the children to live with various friends and family.
Even after her release, his mother was not able to turn things around and they were forced to live out of their car or in a tent. Finally, out of frustration and a desperate desire to remove himself from this potentially dangerous situation, a 12-year-old Morse packed his belongings on his bike and set out on his own.
For several months, Morse crashed on the couches and spare beds of schoolmates and distant relatives, until the Klein family took him in.
“I have been living with them for six years now and could not be more grateful and blessed to have them in my life,” Morse said.
It was during those rough years that Morse got another unanticipated blessing, this time in the form of an injury.
“I broke my wrist skateboarding when I was 12,” he said. “Skateboarding was my passion and means of mental escape until that day when I had to stop.”
To channel his energy, Morse took up surfing instead.
“After catching my first wave, I was hooked,” he said. “Surfing became an outlet to channel all the stress in my life and the ocean became my sanctuary.”
With some stability in his life, a new hobby he loved and a family to care for him, Morse flourished.
The sky is not the limit when you can shoot for the stars.
He attended Point Loma High School, became senior class president and became the school’s surf team captain, helping to establish the first surf physical education class in the San Diego Unified School District.
“He got in there, knew what he had to do and he did it,” said Teresa Bellini-Priest, Morse’s counselor at Point Loma High. “He offered no excuses, was incredibly humble and helped mentor other students along the way. We are so proud of him here.”
Choosing to attend SDSU after high school was a no-brainer for Morse.
“Having been born and raised in San Diego, being a surfer and hearing about the Aztecs throughout my childhood, it was an easy decision,” Morse said. “It has one of the best business colleges in the country and has the best program in the nation to help kids like me: the Guardian Scholars Program.”
The Guardian Scholars Program provides former foster children who attend SDSU with housing and scholarship opportunities. Morse applied for, and was granted, several academic, community service and financial need-based scholarships.
The Guardian Scholars is one of many ways SDSU students are fulfilling their potential. Scholarships are a key initiative of The Campaign for SDSU. Scholarships ensure that our most deserving students have access to the transformational power of a college degree. Learn more about how SDSU is fueling potential, and how you can help.
One of those scholarships was the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustee’s Award for Outstanding Achievement, given by the California State University Board of Trustees. The $3,000 award is among the highest forms of recognition for student achievement in the CSU. Students who receive the award demonstrate inspirational resolve along the path to college success.
Morse was also named a Trustee Murray L. Galinson scholar, which recognizes extraordinary public service by CSU students. The $3,000 award was funded by San Diegan Murray Galinson, CSU trustee emeritus and former board chair.
While the Guardian Scholars Program gave Morse a helping hand, he returned the favor by serving as a student representative for the program. Morse has worked on several campus and community initiatives to raise the program’s visibility and awareness, as well as the issues faced by foster youth who exit the system and enter college.
In summer 2010, he received the Dr. James R. Kitchen Leadership Award for his campus outreach work with the Educational Opportunity Program BEST Summer Bridge Program. The award is given to two students who demonstrate outstanding leadership skills during the annual six-week program.
Looking toward the future
Today, Morse is an exceptional student and involved in several campus activities, including the interscholastic SDSU surf team, which just won its third straight state championship. He plans to attend law school following graduation.
“Strive for success, persevere through the hard times, be optimistic, help others, give back to the community, smile and remember to cherish life because it is too short to take for granted. The sky is not the limit when you can shoot for the stars.”
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