An orange teapot with blue polka dots; an oar from the Syracuse University rowing team; Otto plush toys and bobble heads; 10 vintage SU basketball and lacrosse posters, covering an entire wall.
These are a few pieces of the Orange memorabilia inside Kathleen Joyce’s office in Link Hall, almost all of which were gifts from students.
As assistant dean for student recruitment, Joyce has handled undergraduate and graduate admissions for the L.C. Smith School of Engineering and Computer Science for 20 years. Her job responsibilities include meeting prospective students and organizing events for them, but they don’t stop there.
When prospective students become current students, Joyce steps out from under the umbrella of admissions by writing recommendation letters, giving advice and simply being there when students need someone to talk to.
“Many students come back to me because they’ve already met me,” Joyce said. “I like to remain a part of their experience here and even after they graduate.”
Joyce received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SU in 1992 and 1997, respectively, and is working towards her Ph.D in higher education. Because there wasn’t much emphasis on recruitment when she was in high school, Joyce remembered not being excited about college until she received her SU acceptance letter.
To a first generation college student from New Jersey, Syracuse represented a great adventure.
Joyce recalled visiting SU for the first time when she and her mother drove up for the spring reception for admitted students. They stepped foot on campus and were immediately struck by the campus’ beauty.
“All I know is that my mom and I were sitting on the steps of Hendricks Chapel, and all of a sudden we looked at each other, and we both had tears in our eyes,” Joyce said. “We just both knew in our hearts that this was the school for me.”
After graduating, Joyce started working for the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, but when she began taking classes at the School of Education, she took an open writing position in L.C. Smith and wrote for the college’s newsletters.
Six months later, the dean asked her if she wanted to work with high school students in admissions. Aside from being a part of the Dean’s Team of the College of Arts and Sciences during her time at SU, she had no experience and no real training whatsoever. Nevertheless, she said yes, and in doing so, found her calling.
“This whole job has taught me so much about myself,” Joyce said. “But to be honest, it has never really felt like work and a lot of it has to do with the students.”
Shannon Tronick, a 2007 alumna, met Joyce when she first visited Syracuse as a high school senior. She remembers feeling “like an individual person and not just another recruit” when they talked. Though she already graduated, Tronick still keeps in touch with Joyce.
“Kathleen really goes the extra mile and puts her heart and soul into her job,” Tronick said. “She’s the reason why many engineering students end up picking Syracuse.”
Such was the case for senior chemical engineering major Mileysa Ponce. With SU and Duke University as her top choices, Ponce said that Joyce greatly influenced her choice to attend SU, calling it one of the best decisions she’s ever made. They met at an event called the Women’s Overnight, where prospective female students spend the night at the university learning about its engineering programs.
“Right away she made me feel so at home,” Ponce said. “Her energy and love for Syracuse was really genuine.”
Coming from a graduating class of only 32 students, Ponce wanted to find the same feeling of a close-knit community at Syracuse, and she did, thanks to Joyce. The two now run the Women’s Overnight program side-by-side, working throughout the year to ensure its success.
Last spring, when Ponce found herself in a difficult situation with her classes, she remembers sitting, crying and feeling disappointed. Not knowing what to do, she picked up her phone and called Joyce.
“I knew she was the person who would be able to help me, because the biggest thing is that she cares,” she said. “In that moment, she really made me feel like everything was going to be OK.”
Terrie Monto, graduate recruitment coordinator for L.C. Smith, called Joyce a “morale booster” and commended her dedication to the faculty, students and parents.
“With Kathleen, I’ve never seen a request go unanswered,” Monto said. “And she’s always upbeat, always happy. There is never bad day with her.”
Once, a colleague told Joyce that if she had a dollar for every hug she ever gave, she would be rich beyond belief.
“But you know, I’m already rich,” Joyce said, smiling. “I’m rich with all the right things.”
Published on April 22, 2014 at 2:10 am
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