Staff Writer

Since middle school, Joseph Drew has known one thing. He wants to be a doctor.

At first, his dream was to be an orthopedic doctor. Then, it was a brain surgeon. But now, as a Biddeford High School graduate, Drew is thinking his future career may be as a cosmetic dermatologist.

“I like helping people,” he said. “The word ‘cosmetic’ gets a bad rap, but helping people with scars from accidents or burn victims, that is what I want to do as of right now.”

In a few months, Drew will head to the University of Maine at Orono. He is enrolling in the honors pre-med program and qualified for the Native American Waiver and Scholarship Program as a member of Maine’s Penobscot tribe. When he graduates from college four years from now, Drew will be the first of his family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“I think it would be a great sense of pride and a great sense of accomplishment” to be the first of his family to go to college, Drew said. “It’s not just me that got me here, but it was my brother, my mom, my aunt and uncle and my grampie.”

“My success story is her success story,” he said, of his single mother who raised him and his brother.

Johannah Burdin, Drew’s guidance counselor, described him as a leader with great character.

Drew served his senior year as student body president and sat on the Biddeford School Committee as a high school representative for the past two years.

“He’s a very self-motivated kid,” Burdin said. “He’s a real service leader, (with a) great sense of humor and kind. He’s one of those people that has great character, a smart guy and has excellent potential.”

Looking back on high school, Drew said the one defining moment for him was coming out as gay between his sophomore and junior year. His family was accepting, but Drew said he was worried about what classmates would say or do once school started in the fall.

“There was literally no negative reaction that I got from anybody,” he said. “It shows me the community we have here are really great people.”