Joseph Newman has come a long way.
With more than 120 units completed, Merced College’s Student of the Month for May has achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average in one of the most demanding majors – engineering.
But it hasn’t always been an easy road. Newman enrolled at Merced College after being incarcerated for three years on drug charges.
“Upon my release in 2009, I decided I wanted to change, to rebuild my life for me, my wife and my family. In order to do this I knew I needed an education.” Newman said.
Newman credits several instructors, including electronics professor Eugen Constantinescu, with his success.
“Constantinescu guided me into the electronics program where I found my future,” Newman said. “The more success I had, the more I realized I had what it takes to pursue a higher education.”
Newman has been accepted into the mechanical engineering program at UC Merced and will transfer there in the fall.
“Joe is the perfect student,” said computer science professor Kathy Kanemoto. “He has overcome many obstacles in his life. But he’s a great person and is an inspiration to other students.”
While at Merced College, Newman participated in two internships. He co-wrote a case study that outlined the college’s different electrical systems and corresponding upgrades that were installed by Honeywell Energy Solutions. The study also addressed the financial and environmental impact of those upgrades. He also interned at Hilmar Cheese Company in the electronics and instrumentation department, assisting with the day-to-day operations of the plant.
“This was an invaluable opportunity for me as an engineering major to see the practical applications of my collegiate studies,” Newman said. “My hope is to take this education and to make use of it in an industrial field.”
Outside of his studies, Newman operates a computer repair service, volunteers through his church and works in a drug rehabilitation program to help others struggling with addictions.
“It is because of Merced College, the only place that a person from my background can start over from scratch, that people can receive an education and more than one degree and entirely change their life,” he said.