Alumni Spotlight: Joshua James

Joshua James, who works for the Jackson County Animal Shelter, is no stranger to Cullowhee.

Before graduating in 2004, James became involved around campus, especially with rugby. It is an activity that he is passionate about to this day. After assisting the Men’s Rugby team for two years, James is proud to be an official coach this year.

James stated, “Playing sports teaches you camaraderie and allows you to meet different people. You don’t have to have previously played a sport to get involved with one.”

When asked how he got involved in rugby as a student, James replied, “I had played football all through high school, and my freshman year I had a friend that had started going out to play, and then I started going, too.

“The thing is, rugby is one of those things that you are going to love or you won’t,” said James. “If you love it, you are going to always be around it. You may find other things you enjoy, but there is something special about it. It crosses a cultural divide and has a way of connecting people together.”

Some of the most vivid memories James has of his time at WCU are centered on his involvement with rugby.

He stated, “Whether you are a sports person or not, you will meet all kinds of people. Club sports and other groups are great ways for you to put yourself out there and meet new people and have a good time.”

He also said he remembers the “closeness” that WCU represented.

“You would go to a party or walk around campus and know the majority of the people you saw,” said James.

When James graduated, he worked for an animal control facility in his hometown then moved around. Once he returned to Cullowhee, it seemed a natural fit to take up work at the Jackson County Animal Shelter on Airport Road.  

“I have always worked with animals and animal control,” said James. “Now, I help at the shelter and animal control.”

James works with community service people, rescues and volunteers to keep the shelter running smoothly. In addition to working with the shelter, James has his animal control duties which often include animal cruelty cases and pick-ups. He stated that he mainly works with the livestock cases which include horses, cows and other animals. After working all day at the shelter or with animal control, James heads off to rugby practice twice a week.

When asked what his advice to students was, he said, “Go get out and do something. Put yourself out there. Don’t just sit in your room; you have plenty of time to do that when you are older. That’s the biggest thing you can do when you go to college is to get out there and find things that you enjoy doing and meet new and interesting people. The most successful people seem to be those who put themselves out there and get involved.”