Posse Scholar and Syracuse student Ud Joseph ’25, studying Information Management and Technology in the School of Information Studies, is committed to creating connected and uplifting community.
Born in Arcahaie, Haiti and raised in Miami in a family of immigrants, Joseph knew what it felt like to struggle to build success. Being the oldest child of a janitor and an Uber driver suffering from health issues, the pressure to be “the best” was tough. Living in a lower-income neighborhood in Miami, Joseph witnessed young immigrants who grew up fall victim to some of the rampant drug and violence surrounding his community. “In Miami we were in a low-income part with drugs and violence, and a lot of immigrants feel like a victim there”, said Joseph.
In high school, Joseph devoted himself to his studies and work. Confirmation for all his hard work came in being selected as one 1,400 nominees to be a recipient of the Posse Foundation Scholarship. Posse is a program that carefully selects a small group of diverse, talented, and academically excellent leaders to receive a full-tuition scholarship to a university of their choice.
Coming to Syracuse University, Joseph decided to pursue a highly technical degree in the field of cyber security and technology with plans to study abroad in Korea. Joseph did not want to forget his roots and wanted to find a way to help the community.
Hoping to do something to lift up communities like his, Joseph began to dream of ways he could meaningfully give back to his community and impact others towards success. As he dove further into his degree and studied the technology he was so passionate about, he began to search for a way to combine his studies with social impact and utilize his passion for giving back to community.
When Joseph was a sophomore, he decided to step outside of his comfort zone and challenge himself to take classes that would push him and fuse his passions for technology and innovation with his desire to contribute to his community. He took the IDS 301 “Big Ideas” course in the iSchool, which challenges students to develop various innovative ideas and pitch them to business leaders and innovators in the Syracuse community. His time in the class also introduced Joseph to the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse, where he found a collaborative community and encouraging space to further pursue his dreams of giving back to his community.
Joseph has participated in Blackstone Launchpad competitions like the Ideas Competition, Deloitte Digital Innovation Sprint, and most recently the Impact Prize. Through Blackstone Launchpad, Joseph was invited to be a panelist for GenZSpeaks hosted by RippleMatch where he and other college students discussed Diversity and Inclusion within the current job atmosphere in front of Executive Leaders and Recruiters.
Reflecting on his time growing up, Joseph realized something that is essential to his and many individuals’ success is the power of positive role models and supportive mentors. “Being a first-generation college student, I always felt lost and didn’t have anyone to turn to,” reflected Joseph. “I always knew I needed a program that aligned with my passions. I am happy the iSchool and Blackstone Launchpad helped me find that avenue.”
With this in mind, Joseph set out to create his own nonprofit mentoring immigrant communities of children and teens. He hopes with support and encouragement to pursue ideas and dreams with practical advice to do so, that children growing up in areas with lack of access to opportunities or external support will feel more supported to pursue education and enriching careers.
Joseph is currently implementing his venture idea in Syracuse. He’s involved in ongoing conversations with the Mayor of Syracuse’s office, identifying community partnerships and Syracuse neighborhoods to launch a mentorship program. Particularly with Syracuse as a diverse city with particularly high rates of income inequality, Joseph’s program has the potential to impact immigrant youth towards a future filled with opportunities.
In thinking about the motivation for starting his nonprofit, Joseph thinks first of his family. “My parents played a big part in my education and career journey. Seeing how hard they work and the amount of effort they do for their children makes me feel like everything I’m doing has to mean something. “ For Joseph, the meaning doesn’t just lie in his own personal success but in using his success as a catalyst for those around him.
Story by Claire Howard ’23, Global Fellow.