By Sofya Korneeva
In a quiet, bright from the spring sun classroom of Lincoln Hall, another student of a public speaking class was delivering a speech with 15 pairs of eyes glued to him. In opposition to everyone else, the speaker, Joseph Gillespie, 23-year-old psychology major from Gloucester City, did not look up even once. Nevertheless, lack of an eye contact was not a barrier for students to be interested in his story. Closer to the end of the commemorative speech, describing a day in his life, tears could be noticed in the eyes of the speaker as well as in a couple of listeners.
At the age of 23, Gillespie has already learned firsthand about the influence of drugs on a person. “According to statistics I should be an alcoholic and I should be modeled after my parents, but the fact that I saw it, I refuse to, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke; I can’t do it”, said Gillespie. After he was born in a family of heroin addicts, and has been raised in constant abuse, Gillespie decided to take a different route. He made the choice to major in psychology for a reason, “because of how I grew up, and I just feel bad for people, and I want to help people, because I spent years of my life going through stuff, and I had a lot of problems, and I still do because of it, and somebody else is going to be hurting too, I want to be able to help, because I care, I guess”, said Gillespie.
On top of the problems in his family, at the age of 13 Gillespie went into coma and nearly died because of the diabetes that he turned out to have, and “that’s a different battle, just something I have to deal with on my own”.
In distinction from the person he used to be in high school, Gillespie has improved his grades here at Camden County College and set up many goals for himself: “How I’m doing now is like a hundred times better than how I did in high school. In high school I was a C average. Here I’m all A’s”.
A childhood, which Gillespie spent isolating and hating himself, being suicidal for so many years created a person who loves people and wants to spend his future helping others. “I want to talk to people, I want to help anyone in any way I can, even if it’s just talking to people”, said Gillespie, “I could die tomorrow and that’s fine, but I don’t want to go before I do something”.