When Joe Curry was 10 years old, he was convinced he'd become a corporate lawyer. From the town of Stringer, Miss. (population 1,860) Joe always wanted a taste of big business, and he thought the law would be his avenue.

His first exposure to a large company came during his senior year of high school, when he arrived at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta as a 2012 Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship recipient. Having come from a high school graduating class of 42, joining 249 other socially conscious, service-minded leaders in a corporate environment of such scale was inspiring.

“The overall highlight was meeting so many different individuals who are doing influential things at such a young age," Joe recalled. “Being that young and never having been exposed to a facility of that size was overwhelming in a positive sense. I didn’t want to leave. That was my first step into seeing bigger things and broadening my horizons.”

This exposure provided Joe with sense of comfort and confidence in future interactings with the corporate world. “I’ve been to Coca-Cola," he said. "I know what the headquarters look like and how much goes on behind the scenes of the products you see.”

Joe Curry

When Joe started at the University of Mississippi the following fall, seeing the welcoming and familiar faces of Coke Scholars offered a similar comfort as he transitioned from a small town to a big school.

There, he discovered his passion was not, in fact, corporate law, but accounting, which still enabled him to engage large-scale businesses. He now works as an accountant in Miami, while pursuing a Masters of Accounting degree.

Joe also appears as himself in The Coca-Cola Company’s most recent ad, "Dear Future". In the spot, he celebrates his graduation with family.

During the shoot, he harnessed that excitement felt during his own Coca-Cola Scholars weekend five years prior. “Playing the role of myself, as a Coca-Cola Scholar, helped me reminisce about how special of an experience it was," he added.

Thinking about the doors the scholarship opened and the impactful friends he’s made through the Scholars network, Curry concludes, “The scholarship itself is great, but the experience of that weekend will last a lifetime.”