Josh Goodridge, the first in his family to attend college, believes in the power of education so much that the senior already donates his time and money to UCF’s giving drive to financially help other students.

During the university’s recent annual Believe campaign, Goodridge spoke at the final presentation for the program because he wanted “students to understand the importance of giving back.”

Perhaps that could be expected from a motivated student with a double major in theatre and business who said “UCF has been my home away from home that has helped to mold me into the confident and strong individual who is going to do whatever it takes to achieve my dreams.”

Goodridge, from Wesley Chapel, FL, said his mother, who works at a high school, and his father, employed at a bank, insisted that he and his two siblings attend college. His sister will begin at UCF this fall.

“They understood the changing times and how a high school diploma was no longer enough to secure and keep a career,” he said

Goodridge chose UCF because of its theatre program and the LEAD Scholars program, of which he is a graduate. The program provides two years of academic leadership opportunities for students committed to academic excellence and making a difference in the world, including offering their time through community service.

He said his theatrical roles on campus also have helped shape his outlook on the world.

“Every role I portray I feel that I find out a little more about myself as a person. Especially as I put myself into the shoes of these characters,” he said. “The process of putting on a show comes with many life lessons about working together with others and life in general.”

His roles have included the weaver whose head is transformed into a donkey in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and both Langston Hughes and Willie Joe in Spunk and the Harlem Literati, an adaptation of the play Spunk by Zora Neale Hurston.

“I love acting and theatre. I love what it represents and what it does for people,” he said. “We are able to send messages through an art form like no other and/or allow people to escape from the real world pressures of life to relax and experience something fun or intriguing.”

Goodridge is a recipient of the UCF Pegasus Gold Scholarship and the UCF Theatre Talent Grant Scholarship. He also is a 4EverKnights ambassador, works with the UCF Foundation to help raise money for academic programs, and has been involved with the SGA.

Outside of UCF, Goodridge is training to become an advanced actor-combatant in stage combat with the Society of American Fight Directors and he volunteers on projects at his church back home.

He recently was awarded a Region IV Comedy Actor award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and previously won the center’s directing award.

“Josh has many skills that will help him land successfully on his feet in the field of entertainment,” said Be Boyd, an associate professor of theatre. “A lot of doors will open for him because he has had a high level of success in many areas.”

Boyd said she has seen Goodridge grow from a young supporting player into a confident leading man.

“Joshua has a very strong presence on stage and has proven he is not only a good comedian but an actor with depth as well,” she said.

After Goodridge graduates in December, he said he plans to continue performing Shakespeare and other roles and eventually move into film and television acting.

“I cannot wait to come back to UCF in 5 to 10 years and just see how much it has grown,” he said. “I plan on being a part of and supporting the UCF community for a very long time.”