Commencement is a celebratory time on campus. To capture this year-end spirit, we asked our faculty to tell us which students they are most proud of. Some of those profiled in this year’s #CYProud 2016 feature have overcome significant personal and financial hurdles to reach their educational goals; others have distinguished themselves as exemplars of academic achievement and/or student leadership.
As part of this year’s series, we are pleased to introduce student-athlete Josh Currenton who will transfer to Cal State University, Fullerton. Josh was a stand-out basketball player at Cypress and plans to join CSUF’s team in the fall. #CYPCity #Chargers #CYProud 2016
- Origin — what is your back story (hometown, high school, personal story…)I went to five different high schools. I was born in Watts, California, but I moved all around. I ended up going to Iowa, to Illinois, to the Bay Area, to South Carolina, and came back to California when I was 13 because my grandma was sick. When I was homeschooled during my freshman year, I grew five inches. I went from 6’ to 6’ 5”. I was homeschooled because my mom didn’t want me to attend school in Watts since the environment there was bad. After that period, we moved up to Victorville and I attended Silverado High School. We ended up losing our house there because my mother couldn’t afford it anymore. So I ended up moving to Norco and lived with my aunt for a whole semester. I then went to La Sierra High School for my junior and senior years. That’s when I started to play basketball. Though I had always wanted to play for a team, it wasn’t possible prior to that because I was always moving around. I didn’t have roots.I started playing a lot of pickup basketball during the spring semester of my junior year and I was really bad. I couldn’t shoot a layup because I was so uncoordinated. I would travel all the time and couldn’t catch the ball. You can ask my teammates. I was so bad. I was 6’ 10” and I still couldn’t dunk. It was hard, but I stuck with it. I had several great mentors, including my high school coach who wanted to give me a chance to play. He had seen me in a pickup game and didn’t question me. He offered me an opportunity.
- Why Cypress?I was introduced to retired Cypress basketball coach, Tom Lubin, while in high school. Coach Lubin is a legend. He has worked with NBAA All-Star athletes like former Cypress College students Swen Nater and Mark Eaton. That meeting convinced me that Cypress would be a good fit for me, a place to develop. After that initial meeting, the College followed-up with a recruitment package, which I thought was really cool. I decided to come to Cypress on account of Tom, and began working out and practicing with the team that summer.Cypress College is a very hands-on school. There are counselors you can speak to for guidance and the school has many great academic resources, which have helped me figure out what I want to do and how to strengthen my weaknesses. I used to go the math center for additional help because I knew that math wasn’t my strong suit. But I also knew that I wanted to do something science-based. It was Cypress College professors that sold me on science. They were all so passionate about their respective subjects. I enjoyed hearing them talk about science and learning about life and how things worked. They really influenced to pursue that path and not do the easy “athlete” subjects like communications. I know that faculty will help me if I seriously go for it… even with a shortcoming in math. Science always fascinated me since it’s the study of life and how things work.
- @Cypress — what have you been involved with? How has your path unfolded?I spent my first two years at Cypress grey-shirting for the basketball team. Then I transferred out to Cuesta College and came back to Cypress when Coach Drew took over. I then redshirted during my third year. Finally, I again played this past year. I did a lot of community service while I was greyshirting and helped the coaches with recording the games and keeping stats.I also worked in the financial aid office with Dr. Richard Rams through work-study. It gets really busy at the financial aid office, especially when students come in frustrated because they need money to keep studying.I learned time management is the most important skill to have as a college student. You always have to find that balance. For me I have to study to keep my grades up and put in work at the gym. There will be times I study so much that it impacts how I play. I feel it during games, especially when none of my shots are falling. Then, if I put more time in the gym, I see that I play better, but my grades start slipping. It’s really about finding that balance.
Aside from basketball and work, I helped out with Kindercaminata with my professor Tracy Van Herk. We organized some of the programs for the event and come up with fun games and activities for the children. I love people and I love kids, and it’s just fun to give back to the community. I never really had a father figure in my life, so I wanted to help mentor kids and be a good leader, one that I never had.
- Faculty or staff that have helped you get where you are today.Keith Cobb at the Financial Aid office, Dr. Rich Rams, Coach Drew, and my professor Tracy Van Herk all have been great mentors in my life. They have all chipped in and helped me become the man that I am today. I went through a rough patch last year. I was kicked out of my house, sleeping on my friend’s couch, and without money. I couldn’t afford to go to school anymore and practice basketball, so Coach Drew talked to Dr. Rams and they helped me get a job at the financial aid office. I ended up moving into a house across from Cypress College. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people that genuinely care about me. They weren’t my blood, but they really cared about me. Coming from my background, you don’t really see a lot of that. It’s really special to be a part of Cypress College. Every day I thank God, and someday I want to be in a position where I can give back to someone in my position as well.
- Post Cypress — what do you hope to do in the near term? What are your plans at CSUF?In terms of a major, I’m between geography and kinesiology. In the future, I really want to teach. I want to become a college professor and help people learn. As for basketball, I want to score 20 points a game and grab 20 rebounds. That’s just the competitive nature in me. I definitely provide another tall body that can play physically and bring the energy. I bring energy along with hard work and hustle.
- Longer-Term Vision — what do you aspire to?I feel like there are a lot of teachers that have lost their passion for education. I want to be one of those teachers that will find new avenues to teach students. I learned that the classes where I learned the most were the ones where I was up and interacting with the classroom. I want to make a positive impact in how we learn. It would meaningful to leave that kind of legacy behind.
- What are you most proud of?I definitely take pride in being a member of Cypress College. It’s an enormous accomplishment for me, coming from my background and how far behind I was academically, especially in math. I’m proud that I actually stuck with it and didn’t give up. There were times where I thought about just leaving school and getting a regular job. But, I’m glad I was able to stick with school and work hard in the gym. Every day when I come home, I know I gave the best that I had.
- Anything else you’d like to add…
I’m thankful to be a Cypress Charger. I’m glad I get to graduate in the spring with my AA and go on to Cal State Fullerton to play. I would like to thank everyone at Cypress College for their guidance. So many people cheered me on and gave me hope, even when I felt down and out. We have something special here at Cypress College. It really feels like a family.
Currenton was also the subject of this profile, produced by Cypress College’s Sports Information/Marketing Representative Wes McCurtis:
Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:
– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.
– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.
– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)
– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)
– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)
– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”
– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And 85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.
– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.
– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles
– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles