Joshua Quinn originally wanted to be a traveling psychologist, but overseas excursions changed his mind.
While working on his first master's degree in psychology, he had the opportunity to research and teach in countries such as Bahrain, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. His overseas excursions made him more passionate about education.
"It changed my perspective on education as opposed to the education that I got here back in the states," he says. "... It opened my mind up to different perspectives, different even attitudes about just education period."
Quinn, a Jackson native, received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2010 and a master's degree in psychology from the Chicago School of Psychology in 2012, and is working on a master's degree in international education from Grand Canyon University.
He joined the Army National Guard in 2008 and left in 2017. Quinn currently teaches at Murrah High School.
He came back to Mississippi in 2013, ready to start making change. But when he got here, he saw a lot of problems—low literacy rates, obesity and other health problems, and more.
"I wanted to ... use my knowledge and everything that I've gained to make changes for people in my community," he says.
He also knew that dropout rates, discipline and learning habits were often different for boys of color, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He combined what his knowledge of teaching, education, psychology and cultural psychology, and military science to create the BARS Institute Inc.
He started the program as a trial in summer 2016, and though he did not think anyone would show up, he ended up having a full house of boys. BARS has grown since then. This summer, Quinn took participants to Washington, D.C., where they visited Frederick Douglass' mansion, the Washington Monument and more, and went on a three-state Civil Rights Movement tour, where they saw historic civil-rights places such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.
BARS has also partnered with Apple for a finance and technology program, where participants learn how to make videos on Apple products, and also topics such as robotics. Quinn is also doing a medical mentoring program to show the students that "black and brown doctors exist," he says, and expose them cardiologists, podiatrists, psychologists and nurses.
"I want them to see representation outside of what's on TV, or just sports and entertainment, that we can be more than that, that we have been more than that," he says.