Josh Cole's path to becoming a veteran came through a love of music--specifically the orchestral bass trombone. 

Cole attended James Madison University with the intention of studying music. Although Cole was successful playing in the ensembles, something just did not feel right. He struggled for six years at the university without graduating. 

It was during the sixth year that he learned about the Virginia National Guard’s band. Cole started talking with a recruiter for the band and discovered all of the benefits he could receive by joining the Guard. About two weeks later, Cole successfully passed his audition making it into the Virginia National Guard band. 

Cole found his groove with a variety of performances throughout the year; such as military ceremonies, change of commands, retirement and departure ceremonies, community concerts, and military balls.

The performances were tempered by basic training and some tough drill sergeants, which he admits were  “tough, but fair.” In addition to his military duties, Cole took both trombone and voice lessons every week.

Cole admits that there were many tough times during his service, but also knew that the Virginia National Guard was where he needed to be, taking it one day at a time and realizing he was not alone.  He was able to experience the feeling of graduation when his service ended and he was able to walk across the stage with his family cheering. "I felt great and prideful," said Cole.

After doing some international travel, Cole decided to return to being a full-time student. In his first year at Northern Virginia Community College, he was awarded membership into a scholarship program called Virginia Tech Network of Engineering Transfer Students (VT-NETS) that helps support community college students transferring into Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. 

"I'm honored to be a part of the transfer program and that pretty much sealed the deal on me coming to Virginia Tech to continue my education," said Cole. He plans to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor's in computer science and a potential minor in math.

"I want to thank Virginia Tech for being flexible and patient with their veteran students," said Cole. "It is gratifying to know that Virginia Tech is providing resources for their veteran students where they can feel nice and comfortable.”

--Written by Diana Ofori-Manu, a student intern with the Department of Computer Science.