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In honor of one of his fellow Marines who took his own life, Josh Baker regularly swims 22 laps at the Rec Center pool since August. “22 is the number of Veterans that commit suicide a day so I swim to remember all the Veterans who have lost their life and to bring awareness to this cause,” Josh said.

Josh, a Kinesiology major, referred to this practice of honoring his fellow Marine (Lance Corporal Quintin Bullocksteffke) as the most meaningful moment he’s had thus far at Boise State. He wants to be outspoken about mental health, the importance of seeking help, and wants to put effort into destigmatizing the mental and emotional struggle that so many of us so commonly experience.

Josh transferred to Boise State from California to study kinesiology, with an emphasis in pre-allied health, after spending eight years in the United States Marine Corps—something he feels very few people actually know about him.

Having this kind of life experience before college instilled a set of core values, customs, and courtesies which have shaped who he is and what kind of student he has become.

“Like the Farmers Insurance commercial ‘we know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two’ literally is my life experience I’ve accumulated over those eight years.”

-Lance Corporal Bullocksteffke and Sergeant Baker

However, his journey, much like many other students navigating the pandemic, has not been easy. He’s thankful for getting the chance to interact with students and staff safely in person.

“If I have learned anything this semester, it is better studying techniques and patience.”

Josh has also received mentorship from another Marine. “One of the most influential people in my life and mentor is Matt Tieman,” Josh said. “He’s the one who kept pushing me to further my education and actually finish my degree. I don’t think I would be here now if it wasn’t for his encouragement and counseling.”

While he’s still in school, he wants to offer advice to fellow students in the form of self-acceptance and self-care. He hopes his fellow students know that there are people at Boise State who care about what they’re going through and can help them through difficult times.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling with life. I had been struggling myself and I’m not afraid to admit it. It took a total stranger who I had never met from the Public Health Office to just listen to what I was going through and she completely changed my life.”

Suddenly, he was surrounded by people who were ready to help, and he felt encouraged and uplifted by the response he got from being vulnerable.

“Within the hour I had so many people reaching out just to see how I was holding up and that made the world of difference. So again I say to any student struggling, Boise State has amazing resources to help you with your own struggles. Please don’t be afraid to reach out.”

Before finishing his Bachelor of Science, he will continue to swim the 22 laps to help bring awareness and destigmatize mental health, but that is just the beginning. He plans to open his own chiropractic practice where he’ll be able to combine his passion for both physical and emotional healing to help others.

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