Student Spotlight: Joyce A. Harden '21

Joyce Harden

Last month, Joyce Harden graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership with Asian Studies and Japanese minors and a 3.4 GPA. She embodies the spirit of CPS and Villanova in all that she does. Nominated by her advisor, Olivia thought it would be best for Joyce to tell you about her journey in her own words:

What does this degree mean to you?

It has been a balancing act between single parenting, family commitments, coursework, and a full-time job. The goal in achieving my degree wasn’t to validate my intelligence, but it was a lifelong desire of mine for self-improvement and a path to keep me moving forward in achieving my goals.

What led you to Villanova?

Villanova never stood out as the ideal college or obvious choice. Coming from the neighborhood where I was raised, it was always deemed an academic institution impossible to get into as a Black American with low-income status. However, I believe the stereotype has been dismantled by the university’s continued efforts to evoke allyship, diversity, and inclusion in its vision and mission. During my time as an employee and student at Villanova, my perspective has transformed in a community of unification, learning, and love. The university connected me to a lifelong network of colleagues, advisors, professors, mentors, and students.

What obstacles did you face?

There have been a few hiccups along the way. I lost three family pets while also taking on the role as a caretaker to my mother during my senior year, and I had to juggle that while trying to assist my daughter as she navigated her first year of college. Although COVID-19 affected a great deal of my life, through perseverance I had no choice but to study for exams and finalize my coursework in time to graduate.

How can you relate what you are learning in your classes to your professional life?

Becoming an impactful woman in leadership and Japanese has been a passion of mine for a long time. I always ask myself about the contribution I aim to provide to the next generation, the future of leaders and how education will play a part in heading them in the right direction, or by preparing students for what they will need to succeed in life after college.

What do you think the next 10+ years of your career look like?

My hope is to carry on the legacy of quality education to my daughter, Makayla, who is currently, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Villanova. As Makayla said to me on graduation day, ‘You did it. I can do it, too.’ In Pursuing the Next Me, I applied to the Women in Leadership Development Certificate program in CPS. Additionally, I plan to apply to the MBA Flex program in the Business School. This will mark the continuous fire that has been burning in my soul for over eight years. Now, I can elevate my goals, dreams, position, finances, life, and most of all, myself, into something greater.