Sometimes life has plans for you that you never saw coming. Most times, those plans look nothing like the way you have always imagined them. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to trust those different plans and see where they take you.
Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Josh Perez was raised “all boy”. He was surrounded by masculinity. He imagined he would grow up to work in and own his own gym; train athletes; help people to live healthier lives. It wasn’t about making money; it was about making people feel good about themselves.
Josh followed this plan straight to Ithaca College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. After a couple of jobs working in this field, he was feeling morally drained as he watched big companies make money off of vulnerable clients.
One of three boys (and one girl) in his family, he played all of the sports that boys play, he forged bonds with coaches, he attended an all-boys high school. As he got older, he worked hands-on jobs that required strength. He credits his father for instilling in him a strong work ethic.
It doesn’t make much sense that Joshua is a senior in SUNY Broome’s nursing program. Nursing. A career that is considered “nontraditional by gender”, meaning males comprise 25% or less of the employees in that occupation.
Realizing that his childhood dreams and expected career path might not actually be where he belongs, life presented that new plan. Being able to help others can be done in many ways. This is where you might see the maternal influence that also shaped Josh. His mom has worked in the medical field as an anesthesia technician for most of her career. Also inspired by his high school football coach, who was tough on his players and showed a softness for his daughters, Josh found a new dream.
Currently out of 143 students enrolled in the Nursing Program at SUNY Broome, 23 are males (16%). This puts Josh in a whole new world. He does acknowledge that nursing is a field where most people expect to see women, but he views it differently. He sees a field where you have many opportunities, you can live anywhere, you have room for advancement and you will always have a job. His advice to other males considering a career in nursing: “don’t worry about the stigma and don’t worry about how people will look at you. Look at all of the good you can do.”
As a full-time student in nursing, Josh has found his inspiration in two of his clinical instructors, Professor Mahoney-Brown and Professor Stark. Each one has taught him professionalism, respect and given him the confidence to learn and practice his skills. He also notes that learning from someone of Professor West’s caliber has made this last year even better. Josh started the nursing program during the pandemic and notes that was not ideal, but Professor West brings not only extensive experience, but humor to her teaching style, making in person or Zoom learning a little more interesting.
Although nursing school does not allow for much “free time”, Josh spends as much time as he can with his fiancé, Kelsey and their dog, Moxie. He tries to get home to see his parents as often as possible.
And now with the first part of his nursing education almost finished, Josh still has found a way to hold on to that original dream. He spends the rest of his free time coaching modified football and track at Johnson City School District. And as a “non-traditional by gender” student, he is the perfect guy to coach a female football player. No barriers, no judgement, just helping people, which was really the goal all along.
To learn more about SUNY Broome’s Career and Technical Education Programs and about Non-traditional career paths, visit: Non-traditional CTE Careers.
Submitted by: Lorie Brewer