Joseph-Olritch Colbert

Agronomy – Class of 2018

Joseph’s father died when he was nine and his mother when he was 12, leaving his sister, who was just three years older, to care for Joseph and their younger brother. The small house their parents left gave the children a place to live, and by renting out two of the rooms, Joseph’s sister was also able to keep them all in school. They took meals at a cousin’s house in the neighborhood. Despite these hardships, education was always a top priority for Joseph and his siblings, and his devotion earned him a scholarship throughout secondary school. He had always dreamed of going on to university, so when he learned about HELP from a teacher, he was eager to apply. Joseph had the highest score from among more than 200 applicants to the program for the 2013-2014 school year.

Today, Joseph is applying his strong work ethic and dedication to an agronomy degree. “Agriculture is an important part of Haiti’s development,” he says. “Pollution, waste management, and deforestation are major problems. Our environment is our lifeline, and I want to contribute to solving environmental issues.” He also appreciates the variety of support that HELP offers beyond tuition and textbooks. “The advising services are especially helpful,” he says. “I always have someone to guide me, to listen, and to give advice.”

Joseph is already thinking of how to translate HELP’s personal impact into a means of empowering others. “I’m learning to live as part of a community and to understand the meaning of service.” he says. “I hope to have a positive influence on my peers and to serve as a role model to help others succeed.”