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Walking in Imperfection

Joshua Waldron’s (CAS ’22) resolute voice still tremors when he talks about the night he died.

He was just 15 years old and living in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah when he experienced a traumatic car crash where he was pronounced DOA by paramedics. Waldron recalls an “out of body experience,” following the accident that would shape his attitude and faith for the rest of his life.

“It’s too emotional to talk about – it was sort of a sacred experience,” he says. What he does talk about, however, is seeing his late grandfather, and experiencing a supernatural sense of comfort.

“The only thing I can relate it to is the feeling of my mom singing and rocking with me in a rocking chair when I was a kid,” says Waldron. “It was like that, but infinitely more.”

The remnants of that accident still live with Waldron decades later. Though he sustained a broken spine, which left him permanently disabled, his experience through that trauma built up his life as a Christ-follower and his faith forever:
“But the interesting thing about faith,” he warns, “is that if you don’t exercise it, it’s a diminishing trait…”

Plot Twists

“I found very quickly it was difficult to get a job if you were in a wheelchair. “

Waldron will be first to admit that even before his injury, he always did things a little backward.

As early as third grade, Waldron remembers challenging authority and those who said, “that’s just the way it’s always been done.”

“It was innate within me,” he explains. “I was never a rule follower. If someone told me I couldn’t do something, I’d do it in spite of them.”

So, when he heard from countless doctors and medical professionals that he’d never walk again following his accident, he was ready to defy the odds. Eventually, he made the remarkable progression from a life bound to a wheelchair to walking with a leg brace.

Following high school, Waldron discovered he’d need the traits of resilience and innovation more than ever as he tried to break into the traditional workforce.

“I found very quickly it was difficult to get a job if you were in a wheelchair,” he says. “I was never even able to get a callback [for a job].”

Waldron looked to his father’s example for guidance. He was a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” and invested his working years into everything from real estate and clothing lines to gyms and coal mines.

And so, the man who asked “why” from the beginning, the man who eventually overcame odds to walk again, and the man with an entrepreneurial spark in his DNA decided to break out on his own.

His first business venture? Photography.

He secured a $5,000 loan, signed a lease for a storefront and created his own studio.

There was only one problem.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Waldron says with a laugh. “I’d book [shoots] two weeks out to give the illusion of being busy … but it also gave me the time to learn what I needed to do.”

Over time, Waldron became a sought-after photographer, shooting portraits for major publications like Slam Magazine, Forbes, Newsweek and Time Magazine.

Waldron had a fortune. A successful business. And a position of power.

“But the more success I obtained, the less I felt like I needed God’s help.”

And that, he says, is where everything he’d built up, everything he’d earned – even the faith he’d once been so confident in – began to unravel.

A Difficult Chapter

“I started partying and became a nightmare. I let my ego get out of control,” he explains.

Waldron’s personal struggles, along with unforeseen economic and political pressures, led to the loss of the CEO position of his own company after the board asked him to step down from his role.

He moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to take on the role of President of the Tactical Business Unit of Vista Outdoor. There, he oversaw the operations of three facilities with nearly 1,000 reporting employees.

But Waldron’s loss of his “moral compass” was just the start of another season of trauma. He experienced divorce, alcoholism, the death of his father and his best friend, and the loss of his job within the span of a year.

“Instead of looking to God for peace, I fell off the deep end,” says Waldron.

Coming Out of the Deep End

Waldron was, once again, on the job search – this time with another difficult roadblock. He was a high-performing executive with an impeccable history of financial success.

But he didn’t have a college degree.

“I couldn’t even get past the robots [on online applications] to get sales jobs,” says Waldron. “I wanted to get a degree so I could do that.”

Waldron shares custody of three daughters – three of the biggest motivators in his life.

“It’s hard to [tell them] ‘you should go to college;’ when I never did,” says Waldron.

He chose Regent University for its Christian foundations, particularly in the business world.

“I never really thought to bring those two worlds together, but Regent shows me how and why you should have that culture in your business,” says Waldron. “That’s going to be a pretty critical role in my future endeavors, making sure my faith and my business are connected.”

Hope-fully Ever After

Though Waldron is unsure what life hold for him beyond the pursuit of his degree, he knows he’s heading in the right direction. Today, he looks forward to life alongside his new fiancé, his children and potential work in developing real estate.

“I’m trying to soak it all in at the moment,” says Waldron. “I do know that I want to help other people, but I don’t know that that means for me.”

Perhaps, he muses, he’ll write a book, or begin serving in public speaking roles all in the name of inspiring others to challenge the status quo, and find their faith along the way.

“I may not walk perfectly, but I’m not going to allow people to put me in a box,” Waldron says. “I define my own box.”

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