2 Under 20 - Class of 2016
By Jenny Berg
Originally published: Jan. 15, 2016
Josh Maricle-Roberts is a busy 17-year-old student.
This senior at Apollo High School is involved in choir, theater, Nordic skiing, Knowledge Bowl, National Honor Society, the freshman orientation program and 4-H. He also waits tables at Kay's Kitchen in St. Joseph.
Not only does Maricle-Roberts keep busy with school and work, he finds the time to volunteer shelving books at the Waite Park branch of Great River Regional Library.
"Before work, I could go home and sit at my house for an hour and a half. Who knows what I'll get done," Maricle-Roberts said. "But I could volunteer at the library instead. That's a better use of (my) time."
That sense of selflessness and reliability stand out to those who know Maricle-Roberts, including Rick Larson, licensed school counselor at Apollo High School. Larson nominated Maricle-Roberts for Times Media's 2 Under 20 award.
"It's a special thing when a student that's his age is intrinsically motivated to volunteer and to give himself and to be that altruistic," Larson said.
What prompted Larson to nominate Maricle-Roberts was a conversation with another counselor — who is an adviser for National Honor Society — about how Maricle-Roberts is always the “go-to guy” who will put in the work.
"As I thought about it, I was like, that's (Maricle-Roberts) for everything," Larson said. "That's just how he operates."
Larson's respect for Maricle-Roberts is returned.
"I would love to be like Rick Larson. (He) inspired me to be kinder and a more optimistic person," Maricle-Roberts said. "If I could be that influence on hundreds or thousands of younger people, that would be amazing."
Maricle-Roberts said he plans to attend Concordia College in Moorhead and hopes to become a teacher or researcher. He said he has a passion for history, and would like to use his passion to educate others.
"You can be really inspired by high school teachers. I think I changed totally as a person in the last four years after coming to high school," he said. "I think definitely there's a couple of my teachers ... that are largely responsible for that because they inspire you, they can draw you out and help you realize what you want to be."
In his 2 Under 20 essay, Maricle-Roberts said "there is endless wisdom that can be gleaned from the past."
"Not only can we learn about how the world came to be as it is, we may become far less ignorant of other cultures by comparing their pasts with ours," he said.
Looking forward, Maricle-Roberts hopes to make a difference by helping mold a "generation of historically versed students."
"If you can make a positive influence on all of them, or even most of them, or even some of them, that's still hundreds of people you're impacting," he said.
Maricle-Roberts grew up in St. Joseph and now lives in Sartell. He started working as a dishwasher at Kay's Kitchen when he was 15. A year later, Maricle-Roberts became a waiter. He works about 20 hours a week during the school year.
Larson said Maricle-Roberts' personality "serves as a PR tool" for the restaurant.
"His genuine kindness and welcoming presence makes for many returning customers," Larson said.
Josh Maricle-Roberts, 2016 2 Under 20 award winner. (Photo: Dave Schwarz, firstname.lastname@example.org)
When he heard Larson's comments about his work persona, Maricle-Roberts answered modestly that Kay's Kitchen just has a really great environment.
"There are definitely a number of customers that I see regularly that I've gotten to know," Maricle-Roberts said.
That passion for people is something that carries over into Maricle-Roberts' volunteerism. He said his favorite thing about volunteering at the library is meeting people he otherwise might not have. He also enjoys discovering new books, he said.
"If it's important to you, you've got to make it happen," he said about volunteering.
Maricle-Roberts is very analytical about community service. He says it seems like the best use of his time, although he acknowledges the benefit of working to gain experience and make money, as well being involved with his many school and club activities.
"In the end, the only thing that's really going to have an impact on anything is community service," he said. "I believe it is quite simple; if I can make someone else's life better, by simply sacrificing some of my time, I will do it."
And despite Maricle-Roberts' full schedule, he insists he does have downtime. One of his hobbies is playing strategic board games such as Axis & Allies, a series of World War II strategy games where players use tactical and logistics skills to complete objectives.
"A lot of times I don't have anyone to play with, so I have to play by myself," he said with a laugh.
Larson said that while many students deserve to be recognized for their school achievements and service, Maricle-Roberts stands out as a humble, hardworking and mature student.
"There are all these students who are very high-flying in academics, very intelligent ... but there's just that humble servant that (Maricle-Roberts) is," Larson said. "I'm just elated that he's being recognized."