Junior Joyce Amakoue is the epitome of a person who makes the most of every day.
Originally born in the West African nation of Togo, Joyce and her family came to Minnesota in 2002, and currently reside in the city of Bloomington. This past week, Joyce traveled from Bloomington to Gustavus to begin training to become a Gustie Greeter and welcome the Class of 2022 to campus.
Her dedication to helping others started early. Growing up in Bloomington, she attended Kennedy High School, she enjoyed playing and managing sports as well as participating in service-centered organizations. When it came time to choose a college, Joyce applied to several, but she selected Gustavus because of the sense of community she felt on campus and how she felt she could “picture herself there more than any other place.”
She also appreciates how students are able to have a unique one-on-one connection with professors, versus other universities where the class sizes make developing a professor-student relationship difficult.
Like any other First-year student, her first weekend at college posed a new set of challenges and emotions. “I was actually really shy, homesick, and overall sad because I was missing my family and friends,” Joyce said. She recalls a moment where she went to her Gustie Greeter for advice when she felt like she was not making enough friends right away. “I remember my greeter telling me that she did not make her good group of friends until the spring over her sophomore year, and I said that is a long time to wait, but okay. But, I fortunately found my people that year!”
“Joyce is resilient, full of laughter, and 110% dedicated to whatever she does.”
-Junior Lindsey Schmidt
Two years later, Joyce has come a long way from that first weekend of college. Aside from being a greeter, he has been a part of the Pan-African Student Organization (PASO), a board member of the President’s Board for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and A Moment of Magic. She even found time to manage the track team as a First-year, and works in the campus counseling center.
Her incredible involvement isn’t the only way Joyce stands out on campus. In December 2017, Joyce was named a part of the St. Lucia court at the college’s 77th annual Festival of St. Lucia Celebration. St. Lucia and her court are a group of sophomore girls nominated by campus-wide vote based on their “service to others, strength of character, courageous leadership, and compassion,” according to the Gustavus website.
“Being selected was really exciting and kind of surprising. I remember they sent out the list of all of the sophomore girls and thinking that someone else would get it,” Joyce said. “But, when I saw that I had gotten top five, I was so honored and it was really amazing to see the impact that I had on people.”
Joyce especially enjoyed how friendly and supportive the other members of the St. Lucia court were. What was her favorite part of being in the court? “Caroling around the halls with everyone! I love Christmas, so getting to sing Christmas songs and wake everyone up at six in the morning was great”.
Aside from her warm and welcoming nature, she is also known at Gustavus for her outstanding work in the classroom. She was recently accepted into the nursing program and has been recognized on the Dean’s List for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.7 out of 4.0 or higher.
Though it may prove difficult to balance countless activities with school, Joyce makes it seem easy. She likes to live by the motto “work hard, play hard,” and she always makes sure to take care of herself and make time in her schedule to do things she loves. “I always like setting a goal to look forward to at the end of the day or the week,” Joyce said.
Her own experience as a First-year is one of the things that shapes the way she mentors incoming students. “I wish someone had told me [that] it is not always going to be easy. The things that you struggle with will not always be the same things someone else is struggling with, and you shouldn’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.”
As for making friends in college, Joyce reminds First-years to “not try to be someone you aren’t to make friends. Know that your friends will come to you when the time is right. Take your time, and don’t rush anything.”
It is certain that Joyce’s future is dazzlingly bright. Thank you, Joyce, for all you do for our community!