I've had a pretty hectic life full of failures and successes. I've had the ups....and I've had the downs. My family has been in America since the 1600s on my father's side. My name is Joshua James Gatewood and we trace the last name back to Essex, England when my ancestors left on a wooden boat to found Essex, Virginia. Everyone calls me Josh though. My family was in pretty much every American war going back to even before the American Revolution, my grandfather was a cowboy from Montana that ran a Wild West show, so I guess you could say I was born being an All-American kid.
It was 1999, and I was a sophomore in high school. I moved to a small town in New Jersey in a low pop area of the state called Sussex County. Moving to this small town was not really the best experience. Guys who I wanted to be my friends would tell me to sit on the "Connecticut side of the lunch table". It really sucked. I was on the football team etc and encountered all the politics and super trivial things that weren't so trivial back then. I guess sometimes karma forgets to come around, because when I was a kid in middle school in Connecticut, I remember we had a new kid move in from a town not too far away. My mother was surprised one day when she got a call from the new kid's mom, telling my mom that I had introduced the new kid to my group of friends, and I even gave him an idea of being an entrepreneur. I would sell candy and bubble gum to the other kids. The new kid's idea was to make mix-tapes, and he made okay money off of it. My mom asked me why I introduced this kid to my group of friends and was so nice to him, and I told my mom that if I had ever moved to another town...that's how I'd want kids to be with me. That wasn't really ever the case when I moved.
My grades in high school were pretty bad, but I always had the dream of getting into the University of Michigan as a kid. Guidance councilors never really took me seriously when I mentioned going to any college much less the University of Michigan. Many proposals for trade schools were brought up by the guidance councilors, but I had my mind made up that my goal was to go to Michigan.
After high school my group of friends and I all were community college bound and one by one they peeled out and succumbed to basically favoring partying over school. I broke away and moved to a town in Southeastern Michigan to attend community college and try to pursue my dream of getting in to the University of Michigan. I definitely worked my ass off and had the best grades I have had in my entire life. I was basically trying to take the Rudy route into the University of Michigan. Whether I was trying to emulate Rudy or not, I had a very similar dream, although I was definitely better sized than Rudy for having the dream of playing division I football. I remember one day while visiting Ann Arbor, I snuck into Schembechler Hall with my Michigan varsity jacket on, and security was none the wiser that I wasn't actually part of the team. I spoke with an assistant coach about getting on the football team, and he said if I was able to get into UofM, that he would be able to get me a try out. I truly loved it.
That fall I went to all of UofM's home games. Worked my ass off academically. On the night of my 21st birthday, I stayed in to study.
Despite my best efforts...I didn't get in after applying to Michigan 3 times. I was always interested in eventually moving back to my ancestral homeland in the South. So I applied to the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida and some other schools. I got in to everywhere I applied and eventually chose the University of Tennessee.
The University of Tennessee was one of the best experiences of my life. I joined a fraternity, studied abroad, backpacked Europe, got into trouble, fights, boxing tournaments, threw crazy parties, and had the typical big college great experience. My study abroad program turned out to be one of the most important things I've ever done. I went to Shanghai, China during the Summer of 2008, and had an absolute blast. I met a really nice girl from the University of South Carolina who was in my study abroad program and we started dating.
After I graduated from UT with a degree in Finance and a "concentration in International Business", in May of 2009, just after the massive financial crisis---it became clear that my dream jobs of working in Investment banking were not going to be easily available to a guy with a mediocre GPA, a knack for partying, and no internships. So...I did what everybody does that can't find jobs...I tried to go to grad school.
Since I was dating the girl from South Carolina, I applied to the University of South Carolina's IMBA program, which is actually one of the #1 international business programs in the country. I wasn't able to get in because they typically want their applicants to have more practical work experience.
Through dumb luck or coincidence, the year I graduated from UT, the University of South Carolina created a new program called the Masters of International Business program. So I applied...and hustled...and tried to contact everyone I could about getting in....and I did!