Veteran is a janitor with big dreams – watches videos to teach himself trigonometry and becomes a Physicist

December 17th, 2019

You can follow a new recipe, learn how to change a tire, build an IKEA shelving unit… and study trigonometry. The internet truly has no limits for what “how-to” and educational videos you could find.

Veteran Joshua Carroll used the wealth of knowledge on the internet to pursue his curiosities and find a new career.

Joshua Carroll was smart, and always held an interest in science, but wasn’t always the most dedicated student. By the time he reached high-school, he was feeling less and less inspired by the idea of pursuing a post-secondary education.

Instead, he dropped out of the traditional public high-school system and opted to get his GED. Then, after the United States suffered the unthinkable on 9/11 2001, Joshua decided to take a different path and joined the military.

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He worked as an infantry solider and was deployed to Iraq three times. He came home suffering symptoms of PTSD, and wasn’t sure what was next for him in life.

Feeling a little lost, the recently returned veteran took a job working as a janitor at a local school. One day while cleaning the library, he was drawn to a book on the shelves and found Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”.

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Reading through the pages struck a chord, and reignited Joshua’s childhood dream to become a scientist.

“Space encompasses everything. It’s the grandest story there is. It’s everything that we can imagine.” – Joshua Carroll

He watched hours of YouTube videos to re-build a foundation for math and learn more about physics.

It seemed like an impossible feat. He needed to pass an entrance exam to get into the physics program at Radford University, and was missing many of the prerequisite classes.

The last formal math training he’d had was in the 10th grade, before he dropped out of high school and joined the military.

But Joshua doesn’t just a have mind a mind for math and numbers, he had a way with words! He was able to convince the admissions office to let him enter the physics program without the prerequisite courses. The only condition: he had to learn trigonometry.

Before applying for the program, Joshua didn’t even know trigonometry existed.

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YouTube Screenshot Source: YouTube Screenshot

Again, he turned to the internet (and the kindness of strangers who make free online videos) to learn even more math. So Joshua watched enough YouTube videos on the screen of his cell phone hoping to teach himself trigonometry.

And even for experts in the field, trigonometry is not considered a topic you can learn over night.

“It would be very intense to teach yourself trigonometry in three weeks.” – Dr. Rhett Herman, Physics Professor at Radford University

But Joshua is ambitious and persisted with his application.

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He taught himself everything he needed to know about the subject in just three weeks!

Joshua shined even amongst his formally educated peers. He breezed through calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and other advanced classes most people couldn’t even begin to describe (it’s not just me, right?).

He quickly rose to the top of his class. Well – almost the top. He missed it by just a small percentage. He must have had some seriously talented classmates! All things considered, I think we can still call it astounding!

Does this story sound a little familiar? If you were thinking: “this is sort of like a modern-day Good Will Hunting sponsored by YouTube and Google”… then you’re not alone. Same.

Joshua now works as a scientist, learning more about the universe every day. By following his passion he was able to find a career he loves.

Anything is possible with the internet!

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YouTube ScreenShot Source: YouTube ScreenShot

Watch the video bellow to hear Joshua describe his incredible journey.

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Source: Good News Network