As a high school student in Tuscaloosa, University of Montevallo junior Joy Hill was no stranger to the large college atmosphere.
Together with her mother, Dawilla Prince, she faced the big decision of choosing where her college home would be. Dawilla hoped Joy would find somewhere safe where she could thrive in every aspect of life. Joy’s first impression upon visiting the UM campus was that Montevallo had a strong sense of community. She also described UM as a “public institution with a private school feeling.”
Joy said she was drawn to UM by the deep sense of community, stating that “it was personal from the moment I walked on the bricks.”
She quickly emerged as a leader on campus. Joy engrained herself in the rich culture and traditions of UM. She is a musical theatre and Spanish major, a member of both the Theatre Student Organization and Gold Side and vice president of Sigma Gamma Rho. She has also enjoyed opportunities such as becoming a Montevallo Maven and a M.A.D.E. ambassador and managing the UM Bookstore.
In reflecting on Joy’s experience, her mother says, “I did not know what this journey would bring, but I have seen my child shine bright!”
Dawilla reflected on how proud she was to see Joy star in theatre productions like “Chicago” as well as be a leading force in helping to charter her sorority. But, in the midst of Joy pursuing her dreams and shining bright on the stage, she still finds time to give back and serve others. When asked why Joy became a M.A.D.E. ambassador, she stated “I saw a need and wanted a change.” The need she speaks of is the community and support minority students often need in overcoming the barriers in the transition to college. Joy makes it her mission to welcome new minority students and ensure they feel comfortable during the initial unfamiliarity of a new environment.
She described the program as genuine and said its goal is the “purest intent for change.” M.A.D.E. looks to achieve that change by continuing to value and promote minority students and by providing more leadership opportunities, exposure to minority alumni and professionals and creating a community of support where students can connect with each other in their pursuit of success.
Joy has played a major role in developing a culture of excellence in M.A.D.E. and is an avid promoter for the program. She tells new students one of the best ways to get connected and involved is through joining M.A.D.E. – not only in learning to navigate the college experience, but in gaining leadership opportunities finding a newfound sense of family and graduating confident and equipped to achieve their dreams.
Dawilla also provided encouragement to parents who are in a similar position as she was years ago when she was helping Joy with her college. She said communication is key throughout the experience, including talking to professors, admissions counselors and even current students. For parents, she said it’s important to regularly reach out to their children and let them know they are thinking of them and miss them throughout their college experience.
As Joy nears her senior year at Montevallo, she can reflect on the many firsts she had. Whether it was visiting the campus for the first time, stepping on stage for the first time or coming to her first M.A.D.E. event, she has gained many memories in her time at UM and cemented her own legacy on Montevallo’s campus.
Joy, along with all of the M.A.D.E. community, hopes that students will take a chance on UM and watch how they flourish throughout the years to come. Joy and her mother both said Montevallo exceeded their expectations, and M.A.D.E is working to provide the same experience for future Falcons and their families.