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'He's a very humble kid—we're very proud of him that he stuck to it'

May 30, 2012 - This month, Josh Papineau, who has nine siblings, will become the first in his immediate family to earn a bachelor's degree, and join his aunt as the only college graduates in the extended family.

Papineau, a 2007 Brandon High School graduate, and his mom, Kathy Krivak, are examples of how hard work and determination can overcome even the most daunting challenges.

"He's honest, upstanding, with good morals and work ethic and comes from a blue collar and challenging background," said Rob Privette, a long-time family friend. "He's a very humble kid and we're very proud of him that he stuck to it. There were a lot of times where he could have said, 'I'm not going to do this,' yet he understood the importance of a college education and he persevered."

Krivak raised Josh and her other four children (his remaining siblings are from his father), as a single mom. She cleans homes and works as a bartender at the American Legion and also at a local bowling alley to support her family.

"My mom and my family are my motivation," said Papineau. "My mom would take us to school at 7, work until 5, cook, clean, bartend, deliver papers from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m., she did what she could to help us. I want to be successful enough to take care of her and my family."

He inherited her work ethic. In high school, he maintained a 3.4 grade point average while playing varsity football (3 years0 and also participating in varsity track (four years) and varsity wrestling (one year). He worked for various construction companies during the summer and after high school graduation, attended Oakland Community College for two years, where he earned his associate's degree in general studies.

He then transferred to Western Michigan University, where he hoped to try out for the football team as a walk-on, but was turned down because of a partially torn ACL. He sustained the injury when he was 13 and never sought treatment because of a lack of medical insurance. While he played football through high school, the rigors of college ball would not permit WMU coaches to consider him.

Papineau worked full-time at Belle Tire as a mechanic and received some assistance from a Pell Grant throughout his years at both OCC and WMU, while taking a full courseload and maintaining a 3.0 grade point average.

His degree from WMU will be in exercise science. He will now continue his education at Life University, a chiropractic school in Marietta, Ga.

"I've had my heart set on being a chiropractor since I was in 9th or 10th grade," said Papineau. "I've been seeing a chiropractor for allergies since I was five, and the human body is the only thing that keeps me interested. Surgery doesn't sound fun and looking in a microscope doesn't sound fun. I enjoy the way my chiropractor seems fun. The money will be good enough to have a comfortable life."

Papineau's advice for others in challenging situations, financial or otherwise, is simple.

"Always try to better yourself and keep working, keep your nose to the grind."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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