Joe Greenslade, at one time, was a boy who loved playing high school football and never intended to go to college. He was raised by his grandmother without parental involvement and worked part-time through high school to help with family expenses. None of his family had attended college, so it didn’t occur to him that higher education may be an option in his future.
Through football, he was noticed by the dad of another student who attended high school with Greenslade.
“He happened to be an avid football fan and a rabid Aggie,” Greenslade said. “He had done some checking on me and told me he thought I was eligible for the Opportunity Award Scholarship at A&M.”
Greenslade said he was so out-of-the-loop when it came to college that he had to ask what A&M was. Through his mentor’s help, Greenslade attended Texas A&M University on a scholarship and completed his degree in business management.
“After graduation, I asked how I could ever pay him back,” Greenslade said. “And he said, ‘Just do something for someone else along the way.’ That was a pivotal point for my life and it impacted everything that has followed since. I’ve really dedicated myself to paying it forward.”
While leading a successful business, Greenslade has mentored hundreds of teens and young adults along the way. His commitment to paying it forward started in the 1980s and continues today.
A program he initiated at Paschal High School in Fort Worth with two other colleagues is one he takes pride in having developed. It’s a mentoring program that helps students prepare for and earn acceptance to college.
“One of the things I’ve learned with my experience at Paschal is that most people choose their majors in a very hap-hazard, unscientific way,” Greenslade said. “Many of these youth have very little support or encouragement from home. If they believe in themselves enough to even register for college and they choose an inappropriate major, and it’s more difficult than expected, they feel like they aren’t meant for college.”
Greenslade researched and helped to implement an assessment program that identifies the participants’ strengths and matches them with a list of potential career paths.
“Finding out there are careers in which you can love doing what you do every day is a total revelation to most of these youth who come from laboring families,” Greenslade said. “And telling them they can have success when no one has ever told them that, telling them that someone believes in them, it turns a light on in them. Nothing has ever been as satisfying as helping people believe in themselves and seeing the changes in their attitudes.”
While being involved with Paschal High School, Greenslade is also serving on ACH’s board of directors. When he learned about our Connections for LIFE mentoring initiative, he was more than willing to volunteer his time mentoring young adults who have aged out of foster care.
The Connections for LIFE mentoring program kicked off its first volunteer training session this month. Volunteer mentors involved in the program commit a minimum of one year to build a relationship with a young adult in ACH’s LIFE Project, which is a supervised independent living program for youth who aged out of foster care without a community support system in place.
It’s a perfect fit for Greenslade.
“My story isn’t a whole lot different from many of these young adults,” Greenslade said. “I didn’t have any family to fall back on. When I share my experience, my hope is that it encourages kids and they realize they can be successful too.”
All Greenslade asks in return is for his mentees to pay it forward to someone else one day.
“Mentoring is an opportunity to give back and it gives me the greatest feelings of worth and accomplishment over any professional success I’ve experienced,” Greenslade said.