Why are we raising this money?
Joseph ventured to Silicon Valley and SJSU to study engineering because he wanted to have a positive impact on humanity. He was a dreamer and someone who loved his fellow human beings without reservation and without condition. He believed that he could make a positive difference by creating, and he saw engineering as his path to constructive creativity.
At the prime of his life, he was struck by mental illness. In February 2017, Joseph’s family and friends became aware that he was experiencing strong hallucinations and anxiety. He moved back to his family home in Glendale, where he was diagnosed with some symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Joseph immediately began treatment. In a short while, he worked his way back to most of his previous endeavors. He landed a job with a young tech support company and planned to return to his studies to complete his engineering degree.
During the last few weeks of his life, symptoms associated with his mental illness resumed. He had a tough day at work, on Monday, November 6, 2017. The next morning, he had a nice breakfast with his mom. He explained he would be spending the night with friends and then left calmly for work. As his family describes:
We’ve been able to piece together that he spent at least a day on a beautiful, quiet beach in Ventura. We’re guessing the beach was a recent favorite of his, maybe found during his work travels in the area. The following day, November 9th, he took his last swim.
Early that same morning back at the house, his little sister found a goodbye letter from him. They contacted the police, and the search began. Tragically, his remains were found five weeks later; the family received DNA confirmation five weeks after that. He was 25 years old.
The Joseph A. Roach Memorial Scholarship Fund will support students living with mental illness and/or brain injuries. The Fund was established to:
- Honor Joseph’s memory
- Provide tangible financial support and care for students with mental illness
The Fund will demonstrate to them that students with mental illness are not alone, that the community believes—and is invested—in them. The Fund will reduce the financial stress of college for students supported, freeing more energy for their studies and for the challenges associated with mental illness.
There is currently no funding explicitly supporting students with mental illness available at SJSU.
Stigma and stress are two of the most significant obstacles facing those with mental illness, and the fund aims to knock each of those down a bit.
The Fund is intentionally very inclusive. Full-time enrolled SJSU students with a formal diagnosis, regardless of the illness or cause/type of brain injury, with at least a 2.0 GPA will be qualified to apply.
It is our desire that the Fund contributes to building societal awareness of some of the other tough challenges facing those with mental illness. Those awareness areas include: general public mental health awareness, basic contributing factors, currently-emerging risk factors, diagnostic challenges, and care/support challenges and resources.
How can you help?
In order for this Fund to give as much as possible to support students with mental illness and/or brain injuries, we need to raise a substantial amount of funds. We ask that you please give to this cause—our ask is $50 per year for three years or a one-time contribution of $150. (The scholarship will begin giving out funds in three years.) But any donation of any amount is welcome.
In addition, we ask that you share this with your family, friends and broader social and professional networks. Mental illness is experienced by millions of individuals, their families and friends across the country. Suicide rates for people in their late teens and early twenties are currently rising at alarming rates. And yet the level of stigma and misunderstanding is extraordinary. Only by sharing information and acting together can we change this. This Fund is a small but significant way to do just that.