Teenage boy in a white helmet rides a black bull in a rodeo stadium.

Student Spotlight: Grabbing Life by the Horns

16 year old Justin M. says rodeo is in his blood. From an early age, he felt the thrill of being a cowboy – riding bulls, ranching and cattle herding. Now an 11th grader, Justin is part of Visions’ Independent Study Academy and hopes to one day make “cowboy” more than just a name.

“Bull riding is a sport and way of life like no other,” explains Justin. “I work hard to be the best and hopefully make it my official career at 18 when I can join the PBR and PRCA.”

Between his cowboy lifestyle, Justin prioritizes his education, not only completing his regular high school assignments, but also taking extra classes and planning to do early college. With the help of his credentialed teacher, Stephanie Kyles, Justin will be graduating early, and is already thinking about what he’d like to do in the future.

“I’d like to keep the ranching and the cowboy life and pursue bulling even more when I’m able to travel the states from rodeo to rodeo,” says Justin.

Also a small business owner and construction foreman, Justin knows that the flexibility of Visions is truly what has allowed him to succeed. With the ability to set his own schedule, complete his assignments on his own time and make space for work, Justin has been able to keep up with the things that matter most to him.

“I ride and work,” explains Justin. “When I’m not doing that, I do assignments ahead of time so I don’t fall behind.”

Click through the photos below to see Justin in action!

Inside the Chute

“There is no way to describe the feeling of getting on a 2,400 pound bull and riding him for eight seconds.”

That’s the best way that Justin can detail what the experience of bull riding is like. As someone who has had his fair share of eight second journeys, he has seen the ups and downs of the sport.

“There’s a lot of good from it, such as the little kids wanting your help behind the chutes as they get on their calves and steers,” he explains. “[But] there’s been hurt as well. Since March of 2023, I’ve been in the ER about 10-15 times.”

For Justin, the thrill of the ride outweighs the danger, and as with so many other things in his life, he will surely continue to take his future head on.