By Sasha Feliciano
He walks into class everyday not treating it as a job or obligation, but rather a joy to teach his students and learn from them.
Joshua Daniel Cochran is a 45-year-old Tucson native who is the first in his family to attend college. He attended Pima Community College, University of Arizona and City College of New York. At the UA, he earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in journalism in 2002. When he attended City College of New York, he then got his master’s degree in creative writing.
Before he received his bachelor’s degree, Cochran spent six years as a “hotshot” firefighter and EMT with the U.S. Forest Service in Northern Arizona.
While an undergraduate student, he amassed the Fred Scott Award for Nonfiction, the Bill and Jane Spain Award for Poetry and was awarded Outstanding Senior of the Year for the College of Humanities.
At City College of New York, Cochran received the Eugene Grant Award for Academic Excellence in 2004, and was recognized as Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2006.
Cochran’s love for writing started at a very young age. Growing up in poverty, he did not have the freedom to do much. His mother, however, had a deep love for books so his home was full of them. “My only options were to play with dirt or read. So I chose books,” Cochran said.
To pass time he would spend his days reading and writing, which led him to his successful and fulfilling career path.
After being offered a teaching position at Pima, he moved from New York back to Tucson. Cochran had other job offers but he felt because Pima helped him move up in his career and taught him so much that he still cherishes today, he should give back to the community and college and inspire others as he was.
Outside of teaching, Cochran enjoys hiking, writing and changing diapers. He recently had a son, Orion, in January.
“He has changed my entire outlook on life, and even myself,” Cochran said. “He really changed me for the better and everything I do, I do for him.”
Cochran invests himself into everything he does. He is passionate about a variety of things, even something simple like a plant watering schedule, to helping others in any way possible.
“I have a lot of passions and it truly is a problem for me,” he said.
He has worked as an editor, both freelance and professional. He also used to work for an environmental firm, where he wrote environmental impact statements and endangered species compliance reports.
Presently, Cochran teaches Writing 101 and 102 and SandScript at the West Campus. He has also taught Intro to Short Story Writing (WRT 206), but took a break feeling he needed to give his own writing time and space.
SandScript is by far his favorite class to teach. It’s offered in the spring and is an intimate class where students produce a literary magazine of Pima students by the end of the semester.
“SandScript” is an amazing publication that shows the talents of PCC artists and writers,” Cochran said. He has been the adviser since 2010 and this is his final year.
“I think it’s important to get fresh ideas and new blood from a new perspective every few years,” he said.
The magazine has won first place in the last three years, and every other year first place regional in the southwest. SandScript has been one of his “coolest” experiences and opportunities while teaching at Pima.
“It’s not like any other class offered here at Pima. It’s more like a club for misfits and those who love art and writing,” he said.
Cochran has done his own writing in past years. He’s currently writing a novel and always has several short stories in the works. Cochran’s a published novelist, with The Most Important Memoir Ever Written Ever and Echo Detained to his name. And has published roughly 30 short stories and about a dozen poems.
“He was my first writing instructor,” student Ken Rosburg said. “I thought I knew how to write until I got a story back with a number of comments and I thought to myself, “Did he even read this thing?” I put down the story and a few days later realized I had so much to learn about writing from Josh, who helped me become the writer I am now.”
“He never holds back, and I think that is one of his best qualities,” Rosburg said.
Cochran has significantly increased Rosburg’s knowledge about his own writing and self.
Rosburg is currently the editor of SandScript. He has been a part of the class for two years and started off as the assistant editor his first year.
“It can be at times satisfying, but a lot of working,” Rosburg said. “Sometimes it feels like killing cats, but it helps time fly by.”
Heather Imholz, 19, has been a student at Pima since Fall 2017. SandScriptis the first class Imholz has taken with Cochran.
“This is my first semester in the class, I really enjoy it and would love to do it again for the semesters to come,” she said.
“Josh has impacted my life in a great way,” Imholz said. “He is very knowledgeable and loves to share his wisdom with us, which I have loved to learn about especially being an english major.”
SandScript has been Imholz’s favorite college experience so far because it has taught her to value teamwork and the opinions of her classmates.
“It is very fun, but also tedious and difficult at times,” she said. “There is much to do and requires a lot of attention, but it is ultimately very impactful and fulfilling work.”
Cochran has inspired many of his students, and it all comes from his passion of going to class everyday and encouraging his students to become better writers and express themselves through words.