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Remembering Dr. Ron Joyce

Students reflect on life-changing impact of Joyce Foundation Bursary

Campus and Community

By Dave Penney

Dr. Ron Joyce is being fondly remembered by students at Memorial University who are among the recipients of the Joyce Foundation Bursary, a program that has created transformational educational opportunities.

Dr. Joyce passed away on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.

In 2014 The Joyce Family Foundation (formerly The Joyce Foundation) made a landmark donation to Memorial. The foundation, established by Dr. Joyce, provided $5 million to Memorial University to create the Joyce Foundation Bursary, funds to assist students who are committed to education but face critical financial need and personal challenges to attend post-secondary education.

Part of that donation has also created programs to provide bursary recipients with other supports that may be required and are not strictly academic in nature.

Increased access

The Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist was deeply committed to empowering young people by providing increased access to education.

Since its inception, The Joyce Foundation Bursary program at Memorial has been supporting eight full-time students each year with renewable bursaries of $5,000 per year for up to four years, covering tuition, required fees and supplies.

“I am forever grateful for the kindness and generosity Dr. Joyce has shown me and my family.” — Gerald Wall

Adrianna Warren is one of those students. The child of a single parent home, Ms. Warren has experienced financial struggles and housing insecurity in her life. She enrolled at Memorial in 2016 with the help of the Joyce Foundation Bursary.

Today she is in her third year of study, working on a degree in cell and molecular biology with plans to eventually pursue optometry.

Dr. Ronald Joyce
Photo: The Joyce Family Foundation

“I was so sad to hear of Dr. Joyce’s passing,” she said. “He’s been the support and inspiration for countless students, including myself, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been one of the people among his influence.”

Gerald Wall is another student who has benefitted from the Joyce Foundation Bursary. The native of Harbour Main also received the bursary in 2016 and is currently completing the third year of his naval architecture program at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University.

“I am forever grateful for the kindness and generosity Dr. Joyce has shown me and my family,” said Mr. Wall. “The number of lives that Dr. Joyce has affected in a positive way is incredible, he will never be forgotten.”

Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research) and acting president, expressed condolences on behalf of the university.

“The entire Memorial community is profoundly saddened at the passing of Dr. Joyce,” he said. “We are so fortunate to count ourselves among those who have benefitted from the generosity of Dr. Joyce and the Joyce Family Foundation which has transformed lives across this country and beyond as these individual stories emphasize. We convey our deepest sympathies.”

‘I was born in a refugee camp’

The exponential and far-reaching effects of Dr. Joyce’s generosity are made clear when you consider the story of an individual like Hemant Chawan, another scholarship recipient who was among the first cohort of Memorial students to receive the Joyce Foundation Bursary.

“My family is from Bhutan and I was born in a refugee camp in Nepal. I had very minimal education before I came to Canada in 2011,” he said. “When I eventually started going to school, I couldn’t understand a word of English, but I loved math. I never thought that one day I’d be studying at university as it was something my family could not afford.

“Thankfully, when I graduated from high school, I received The Joyce Foundation Bursary,” he continued. “Now both my brother and I attend Memorial and are the first generation in our family to study at university. My family and I are forever grateful for Dr. Joyce.”

Adrianna Warren was invited to attend and speak at a thank-you event held in 2017 that included 14 Atlantic Canadian universities who received support from the Joyce Family Foundation. It was there she met Dr. Joyce in person.

“He truly cared about each and every student and he loved to hear updates on our endeavours,” she said. “After I spoke at the event held to celebrate him and the foundation, he even took the time to present me with a thank you card for speaking. It left such a strong impression on me, because really, the thanks are all for him.”

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