Howling Success: Joshua Wright
This month’s Howling Success is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, producer and host for TRIO's Beyond the Bell Tower podcast, and a member of NC State's Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir.
Like many people during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joshua Wright (Psychology ’23) picked up a new hobby: He started listening to podcasts. In the fall 2022, he found the perfect opportunity to produce his own through TRIO Collegiate Programs.
For the last year, Wright has served as producer and host for TRIO’s Beyond the Bell Tower podcast. He also spearheaded the effort to make episodes available in video form on YouTube, thanks to a diversity mini-grant through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Additionally, he partnered with NC State graduate Mike Ferrell and his Durham-based company, Ferrell 27 Creative, where Wright records his shows and works part-time as a web producer.
“[Beyond the Bell Tower] has given me not just a job, but a new passion for interviewing people,” Wright said. “So that’s been really cool, and TRIO has just given me a lot of different opportunities within the last three years that I wouldn’t have imagined coming in.”
Sarah Wright, assistant director for TRIO Student Support Services, nominated Wright as a Howling Success for his work.
“I think what makes Josh stand out is that when he sees opportunities, he takes them and runs with them,” she said. “When Josh applied for the CHASS Mini Diversity Grant to start recording videos for the podcast, there was no hesitation, and he got the full amount being offered. Adding the video component was so huge and it would not have happened without him.”
Beyond the Bell Tower features current students, alums and community members who share their personal stories to offer support and guidance to TRIO Program students. The episodes focus on topics like academics, finances, career and personal development and culture to promote undergraduate and graduate school success relevant to the low-income, first-generation college student experience.
Wright’s first interview was with Ferrell, who talked about his journey as an entrepreneur. He also featured psychology professor Rupert Nacoste, who discussed the challenges he overcame with racism during his service in the U.S. Navy and his path to becoming a college professor. Another was a conversation with fellow TRIO scholars Krupa Bharodiya (International Studies and Business Administration – Marketing ’24) and Kelis Johnson (Africana Studies – Community Studies ’24), who were part of the inaugural cohort for the Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service, also known as the Voyager Scholarship.
More recently, Wright enjoyed a serendipitous interview with newly elected NC State Student Body President Timothy Reid.
“The Friday that we recorded his interview, he had launched his campaign to run for student body president, and then exactly two weeks later when it was time to post the video for the podcast, it was the day he was announced as student body president,” Wright said. “So it worked out perfectly for both Fridays that we interacted with him because we were able to advertise his campaign in one episode, and then introduce him as the new student body president in the next.”
Wright transferred to NC State in the fall of 2020 following a year at Wingate University. Despite being a new student at the university at a time when all classes were online, he found opportunities to explore his interests through TRIO and the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, in particular. The McNair Scholar Program is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The McNair Scholar Program at NC State serves 25 undergraduate students annually.
“TRIO has given me a lot of connections,” Wright said. “Because of TRIO and the McNair program, I’ve met faculty and done research with them, even outside of my major, and it’s given me opportunities to learn about what it takes to be a scholar at the next level.”
In his first summer as a McNair Scholar, Wright was part of a virtual summer research experience with Jason Bocarro, the Owens-Shelton Distinguished Professor of Leadership with a Global Perspective and program director for the James Buzzard Leadership Development Program. Bocarro and Wright collaborated on research sponsored by the NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference producing primary findings such as “mental health providers supporting student-athletes lacked diversity.” For his part, Wright interviewed psychologists and mental health providers across ACC institutions about the resources available to students and how systems could be improved.
From this work, Wright went on to secure a prestigious summer internship with The Ohio State University, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion related to the accessibility of the US healthcare system. In this role, Wright took part in multiple DEI initiatives at the university’s Wexner Medical Center. Specifically, he worked with other interns to gather input from hospital staff about diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and what steps their managers have taken to make the workplace more inclusive. He also researched employee retention.
Back at NC State, Wright is a student ambassador for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and an Uninhibited Praise Gospel Choir member. He also sings in the choir for Southside Church of Christ in Durham, N.C., where he helps with community outreach and volunteers at the food bank. He was recently recognized as runner-up for Outstanding Student in the Chancellor’s Creating Community Awards.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from NC State this May, Wright plans to enter a counseling graduate program specializing in clinical mental health counseling. In the long term, he hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling or sports psychology.
“To be nominated by the TRIO staff as a Howling Success means a lot to me. It makes me really think about all that I was part of during my three years at NC State and all the potential I could take with me into graduate school and the professional world. So it’s really exciting for me.”
The Howling Success award recognizes undergraduate students for their outstanding work in campus leadership, community service and other areas in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. If you know someone you consider a Howling Success, nominate them here: dasa.ncsu.edu/howling-success