Eight-year-old TIPster Joshua Suddith has many goals.
Some, he’s already completed. Learn to play an instrument: done—clarinet, saxophone, and piano, so far. Publish a book: done—by the age of three. Conduct STEM research: done—by the first grade. Others, he’s still working on, like starting college by the time he’s 15.
The beautiful thing about Joshua’s goals is that each is motivated by the same desire. He wants to make a positive impact on the world, and he wants to do so as soon as he can.
“One day, I told my mom that I wanted to have a bookshelf full of my own books,” he said. “I realized at a very early age that I wanted to share my stories and creativity with the world.”
At just three years old, Joshua held a book signing at a children’s book fair and convention. As the only child author at the event, he remembers receiving lots of attention from the adults who attended. He sold out of the two hundred or so copies he brought with him within two hours.
That book was called Go Fish, and it was the first in Joshua’s ongoing series known as The Brother Explorers. He’ll publish his second book soon, and he’s even started on a third.
In the first grade, Joshua had a go at his first science project. He set out to discover which combination of oral care did the best job of reducing oral bacteria. He won first prize. Then, he raised funds and donated more than 400 toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, and mouthwash to his county’s foster care system.
“My mother is an educator, and my dad is a first responder,” he said. “They taught me the importance of education and giving back to the community, and this motivates me to excel in school and be successful in a STEM career.”
Inspired by his grandmother, who has congestive heart failure, he’s researched cardiomyopathy. And his own medical condition drove him to study kidney health and congenital birth defects.
This year, Joshua and his brother raised enough money to order more than 500 books. At the end of this month, the two young men plan to host events in their community where they’ll donate the books to kids in need.
“These are tough times, and I know getting lost in a good book has helped me while being in quarantine,” he said.
As for starting college at a young age, he draws inspiration from an iconic historical figure.
“I learned that Martin Luther King Jr. was 15 years old when he attended Morehouse,” he said. “I have been inspired by his story and impact on society from a young age.”
Achieving this goal means taking summer courses throughout middle school and doing a dual enrollment program as soon as he starts high school. If all goes as planned, he’ll be just 12 by that time and, through an accelerated program that allows him to earn high school and college credits simultaneously, he could graduate by 14.
“I have a very supportive network that encourages me to meet my goal,” he said.
Specifically, Joshua mentioned his mother, father, band director, fourth grade science teacher, and STEM research teacher as all playing a crucial role in supporting him along the way.
Because of the pattern of excellence that he’s established for himself, we believe Joshua when he says he’ll start college by 15. When the time comes, he wants to pursue marine biology, biomedical engineering, theology, or computer science. And he says he’s leaning towards the alma mater of his idol, in addition to a few other prestigious choices.
“I think Morehouse’s legacy and focus on excellence is a great choice,” he said. “I am also interested in Harvard, MIT, Duke, and Georgia Tech.”
Joshua is an inspirational success story, no doubt. We’re proud he’s a member of the TIP family. We’re proud that he’s devoted to reaching the goals he’s set for himself, diligently checking each one off as he grows and matures. But we’re most proud that Joshua’s motivation for each goal is the same.
“I would like to make a difference in the world and use my gifts and talents to help others,” he said.
We asked Joshua what advice he would share with other TIPsters. Here is his full response:
I would tell other TIPsters to follow your dreams and go after what you are passionate about. If you get overwhelmed, take a break and relax, and don’t be hard on yourself or let things pressure you into being unhappy. Sometimes it is challenging to be young and involved in advanced classes and being with older students. I try not to pay too much attention to my age. I let my goals in life drive me, but never to the point of getting totally stressed out. I remind myself that I am still a kid and it’s ok to still play games and have fun!
I also believe it’s important for kids my age and even adults to do the things they love. When you are forced to participate in things you don’t like it feels like a major chore and you won’t be happy in the end.
“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” —Martin Luther King Jr.