Dr. Jones thrives wherever she is planted

As an educator and biologist, Daley College adjunct biology professor Dr. Joyce Jones has always understood that there is strength in diversity.

“Just as each part of an organism does its part to help each living thing thrive, a community is many members of one body, and we are all here to make a difference,” she said.

Dr. Jones began working at Daley College as a science tutor in 2011, helping students understand material in their biology, chemistry, and physics classes. Soon, she was teaching credit courses in the Biology Department, and today, she teaches a variety of courses at Daley, primarily in areas of general education biology, honors biology, cellular and molecular biology, medical terminology, human sexuality, and nutrition.

“Daley College is fortunate for Dr. Joyce Jones’ commitment, as an instructor and a mentor, to her students and dedication to our college community. She has made a positive impact at Daley College for over a decade,” said Daley College President Janine E. Janosky, PhD.

Dr. Jones’ desire to support her students was born out of her desire to help others avoid the struggles she experienced growing up on Chicago’s West and South Sides. She grew up in a multicultural family during a time when community redlining and school segregation was at an all-time high across the city. Her family helped to integrate their neighborhood school, even as they risked violence for doing so.

“There was a lot of racial tension. People would throw sticks at us and sic their animals on us as we crossed the line that divided neighborhoods on our way to school. In middle school, teachers brought us students of color to the third floor to point in the direction of the Cook County Jail nearby, telling us that’s where we would end up.”

She would not allow these great obstacles to stop her from achieving impressive education and career goals. Today, she feels great pride for having been a trailblazer throughout her education and career journey. Dr. Jones was often the only woman or person of color in the school and research communities that she was a part of. Today, she is personally and professionally committed to helping people of color, and women in particular,  pursue careers in STEM and leadership.

After graduating from Harrison High School on Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood, she received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in education from Chicago State University. Later, Dr. Jones earned a master’s degree in cell biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Missouri – Columbia (UMC), and a National Institutes of Health four-year, post-doctoral fellowship in cardiovascular physiology at the UMC School of Medicine and Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. She has found fulfillment in a variety of roles, including biomedical researcher, high school teacher, college admissions counselor, nursing home volunteer, and, for the last decade, tutor and adjunct instructor at Daley College.

Whether teaching in Daley College classrooms, writing scientific grant proposals, or attending meetings to help plan the Human Genome Project, a world-renowned research project focused on DNA, Dr. Jones thrives wherever she is planted. She’s been a part of groundbreaking efforts and gained widespread recognition, including a recent nomination for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s 2022 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member Award, but she is quick to turn the focus back to her students. Dr. Jones is proud to share countless stories of those who earned their associate degrees at Daley before going on to receive top honors at universities across the country.

“I’ve been lucky to be a part of my student’s lives long after they leave Daley. I keep up with them because that’s what mentoring is—not just writing a letter of recommendation and letting them go,” Dr. Jones said. “I feel so gratified because, as educators, we never know the impact of even one encounter with one student. I treasure every encounter I have, and give it my very best.”