Originally posted on Alexandra, D. C. on September 17, 2016
Joyce LaLonde is a senior at Syracuse University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in policy studies and public relations. Growing up in a small town in Western New York, Albion, Joyce has learned to squeeze the orange for all its worth at Syracuse University. She is currently serving as student body vice president, where she unapologetically seeks to do what is best for the students. Aside from her work within SU’s Student Association, she is on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit, Nourish International. She also works as director of evaluation and public relations for the Skills Through Experience Program on campus and is the communications manager for Syracuse’s Near Westside Initiative. Aside from that, she enjoys being an ambassador to the university by leading orientation for first-year students, giving tours, and regularly sitting on panels. The strong legacy Joyce is leaving at Syracuse comes as no surprise, as her family has been a part of the SU community for 60 years!
Tell us about your recent campaign victory. What is your new position and what inspired you to run?
Right now, I am serving as the Vice President of Syracuse University’s 60th Legislative Session of the Student Association. My involvement within the campus, local, and international community has always been extensive. I have fought for what I have believed in and worked tirelessly to do good. However, as it often happens with women, I didn’t think to leverage my skills and passions to run for office. That was until my now president, Eric Evangelista, asked me to run with him. From strangers to soulmates, Eric and I are able to constantly challenge one another, pushing the limits on what can be achieved by the 60th Legislative Session. The most humbling part of the campaigning process, however, was the outpouring support from friends and peers. People knocked on so many doors that their knuckles started bleeding! The inspiration to run came from those people knocking on doors and from the people opening the doors. Only one week into the academic year, and I hope that I am making those people proud.
LaLonde pictured next to her running mate, SU Student Association's 60th President Eric Evangelista. Election photos by Emily Dang.
What are your plans to empower women during your time as student body VP?
I believe that as a woman, there is a responsibility to constantly work to empower other women. With that being said, through this empowerment, one cannot turn a blind eye to the intersectionality of gender, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, faith, etc. within these attempts to empower. I have enjoyed the opportunity already to work and learn from women across many walks of life. For without this intentional diversity, all voices will not be heard. One thing I am excited for with the Cabinet Eric and I have put into place: more than half are women! Seeing these bright and tenacious women in leadership positions within student government creates an environment of productivity and ingenuity. Also, on October 15th, we will be hosting Elect Her: Campus Women Win. This program, in collaboration with AAUW and Running Start, addresses “the need to expand the pipeline of women candidates and to diminish the longstanding political leadership gap” (http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/campus-programs/elect-her/ if you want to link it to the page). I have been working with the Women’s Leadership Initiative at SU to plan and execute that event, with the Panhellenic Council, SASSE, a Capella groups and other organizations to plan Mental Health Awareness Week and Red Zone Week, along with many other women-specific organizations. As we all collaborate and lift one another up, doors are opened and ceilings are shattered.
What woman has been your biggest inspiration and what do you admire about her?
My biggest inspiration is and always with be my mother. When Mom would walk into a room, she commanded respect merely by being there. Her ability to lead with a sense of kindness and fairness guided the way decisions were made and words were spoken. In fact, she was a woman of few words because the words she carefully crafted were done so with purpose and always listened to. I am thankful that she instilled in me an undying love for humanity and my fellow person. I would be remiss if I did not mention my admiration for her strength and her fighter spirit. After 15 years with stage 4 breast cancer, working full time, staying involved with the community, and doing the work of seven people at church, all without missing a soccer game or dance performance, I was shown what strength is. My dad said in her eulogy that she was “always too busy living to talk about dying; there was simply too much to be done!”
My mother taught me that to be a woman is to be a warrior.
LaLonde cutting ribbon at the Global Health Network of Uganda for multi-year partnership between SU Nourish International and GHNU.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is exemplified by a person whose character is revealed through action. It means working alongside every person you can and tapping into the potential in that person. It means leading by example and lifting people up.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My best advice would be advice I received from my dad: make mistakes.
What is your career ambition?
I’m not sure, and I’m comfortable with that! I hope to keep taking advantage of and pursuing opportunities before me to impact the lives of those in my community, whether that be a local community or the global community.
And for fun – what is your favorite Syracuse tradition?
Traditions are what I love most about Syracuse! One of my favorites is the Kissing Bench, which legend has it that if you share a kiss with the one you love on it, then you are destined to be together forever. On the flip side, if you sit there alone, you are destined to be alone forever. Regardless of the side you are looking for, you have been warned! It was neat touring Syracuse as a high school student with my parents. Although they had met at SU, they didn’t know the legend of the Kissing Bench. Right after learning of it on the tour, we rushed to the bench and sealed their love forever. Growing up with parents and grandparents that all attended SU has led to some family traditions of our own, which can be even more fun!
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