After a few fun days off, going back to a stressful week of classes and homework is not ideal. Sometimes taking a step onto that 7:45 a.m. bus is the furthest thing from happiness Monday mornings can bring.
Josh Edwards, a 25-year-old bus driver for Blacksburg Transit, makes it his goal to change this and to bring a smile to the faces of Virginia Tech students. Sporting a blue and brown plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots, Edwards’ appearance may not make him look like the average bus driver. However, through the scruffy beard and camouflage hat that often hides his face, it’s not difficult to see his excitement as someone steps onto his bus.
“It’s rewarding knowing that I’ve actually brightened somebody’s day,” Edwards said.
Video: See Josh Edwards in action
Having lived his life in Tobaccoville, N.C. since he was 11 years-old, Edwards found that he didn’t have many connections once he moved to Blacksburg, Va. Somehow though, he always had a strange connection to the state and had a feeling he would live in Virginia at some point in time.
Growing up, he was raised in a family with three brothers and was the second eldest of the four. He was and still is extremely close with his family and from them, he learned how to become the independent individual he is today.
His mother, who went from a stay-at-home mom to a kindergarten teacher and eventually a professional caterer, was always busy. However, she always managed to be there for Edwards and the rest of his siblings.
His father, equally close to the children, fed Edwards his love for machinery and cars. Edwards’ father, who raced go karts in the past, helped the boys move from remote controlled cars to go karts and eventually helped them graduate to cars and trucks. Like his mother, Edwards’s father was a major influence in his life.
“He told me to ‘Always mark your work with excellence,’” Edwards said.
However, even with the impact of vehicles through his time as a high school and college student, the path to being a bus driver hadn’t quite started.
Edwards had played the violin since 6th grade and continued into 9th grade when he eventually took a school trip to Appalachian State University. There, he learned about their music program and his love for it began to grow.
“I sort of always knew in the back of my head that I’d end up at that school one day,” Edwards said. “I had finally dropped the violin in 12th grade, and one day I got a random phone call from the orchestra teacher (at Appalachian State) and she needed help teaching a camp.”
Driving ice trucks at the time — a job that had to grow on him — Edwards didn’t have to be asked twice when he was offered the position. From there, he auditioned that fall and then attended App State's campus in Boone, N.C. He majored in music education and became a classical violinist.
While he was in college, Edwards met Kathryn Slaughter, who was a high school student at the time. With their strong relationship and a desire to be as close to him as possible, Slaughter chose Virginia Tech when applying to schools. With an aspiration to become a large animal veterinarian, her choice of schools was limited, and this college town was as close as she could get to Edwards.
Upon college graduation, Edwards followed Slaughter to Blacksburg. Later, he proposed to her. Their wedding is set for June 1, 2013.
“Since I’m a music person, (the proposal) had to involve music and it had to be big," Edwards said. "I contacted Mixed Emotions and they said they would sing for us. One of her friends faked his car breaking down and being a mechanic, he called me up. I had basically planned that we’d be at the War Memorial at 6 p.m. and the group would be singing for us.”