Marketing Major Excelling as Coles Scholar, Honors Student
KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 13, 2019) — Josh Wolfe learned to play guitar at age 10, then realized as a teenager that he could use his musical talent to earn money.
So, at 16 years old, Wolfe gave guitar lessons in and around his hometown of Ball Ground, Ga. It sparked the entrepreneurial spirit and determination that continues today for Wolfe, 26, who now is a student in Kennesaw State’s Honors College and the Coles College of Business Scholars Program.
“I started teaching guitar lessons because I saw that nobody was doing that in the area where I lived,” said Wolfe, a junior majoring in marketing. “I found that niche early and realized I could do in-house lessons. I saw at that age that I could market my skills.”
That first business venture began Wolfe’s non-traditional path toward attending college. After graduating high school, Wolfe continued to teach guitar and also managed the Music & Arts store in Woodstock, earning several awards as a top salesman in the nation’s largest retail chain of band and orchestral instruments. Once he felt he had gone as far as he could in that role, Wolfe became a relationship manager for Bank of America, advising customers on financial decisions.
While Wolfe was working full time, his wife Ashley was completing her early childhood educationdegree from Kennesaw State. After she began her career as a special education teacher, Wolfe decided to earn his degree from KSU – even though it meant giving up his promising position with Bank of America.
“I was quitting a good job I could’ve made a career out of, so I needed to go above and beyond in college to know that I was making the right decision,” Wolfe said. “I don’t do anything without doing it wholeheartedly.”
Wolfe is living up to that at KSU. He said that being in the Honors College “has provided me the opportunity to dive deeper into my degree and to learn about diverse topics not typically covered in standard classrooms. I have been influenced by some of the greatest instructors at Kennesaw State, all because of the Honors College.”
In addition, Wolfe was one of a select few business majors chosen to be a Coles Scholar, a two-year program that focuses on leadership development, integrated and international studies, community engagement and mentorship. Through the program, Wolfe has met the namesake of the Coles College, entrepreneur, philanthropist and education advocate Michael Coles.
“Knowing what Michael Coles has accomplished, being able to work in his image is an honor,” Wolfe said. “I aspire to work at the same level he has. He says to take risks early and often, and I try to live by that mantra.”
Along with maintaining his rigorous course work, giving guitar lessons and working as the Honors College’s marketing intern, Wolfe is active in giving back to the community. As president of the KSU Honors Club, he has initiated service projects on campus such as making sandwiches for Homelessness Awareness Week and helping raise money and awareness for CARE Services, which supports Kennesaw State’s homeless and food-insecure students.
Wolfe was one of 15 Honors students to spend their 2018 spring break volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Rome, Ga., and this May he will take a two-and-a-half-week service learning trip to the Dominican Republic with the Coles Scholars Program. He also has served as a volunteer firefighter since 2011 for the East Lake Sinclair Volunteer Fire Department.
“It’s not enough for me if I just work, work, work,” Wolfe said. “If I don’t have a connection to the community, I’m not fulfilled.”
Wolfe is eyeing his May 2020 graduation from KSU, after which he hopes to work in a marketing department for an Atlanta-based Fortune 500 company. To gain valuable experience, he will spend 10 weeks in Macon this summer on a business leadership internship with Geico insurance company.
Meanwhile, he continues to appreciate the friendships and learning experiences he has gained from Kennesaw State, particularly the opportunities afforded him by the Honors College and Coles Scholars Program. Also, the self-described “huge KSU fan” doesn’t miss an Owls home football game.
“Everywhere you look, there is excellence at Kennesaw State,” Wolfe said. “This is a special place. I am very blessed to be on this journey.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by Rob Witzel