Dr. Jennie Joiner Tells the Class of 2022: ‘Find Your Edge’

The College’s Professor of the Year welcomed new students at the annual Academic Convocation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Keuka College’s 2017-18 Professor of the Year Dr. Jennie Joiner offered some advice to the Class of 2022 at the College’s annual Academic Convocation ceremony, held Tuesday, Aug. 28. She told them to find purpose; “find your edge.”

The ceremony, attended by some 450 freshmen and new transfer students, as well as faculty and staff, marked the official opening of the 2018-19 academic year.

Dr. Joiner,chair of the Division Humanities & Fine Arts and associate professor of English,shared her “Three Ps”—people, place, and purpose—cornerstones which she believes create meaning in our lives.

“Each of us has a need for purpose in our lives,” said Dr. Joiner. “Without purpose, we are rudder-less ships. It took me a while to discover my purpose.”

She said that, after high school, she went to secretarial school, got a job, got married, and bought a house. But her marriage ended and she moved from California to Georgia to begin a new life. She got a job as a legal secretary. She was good at it. It paid well.

And she was miserable. 

“At the suggestion of a friend, I went back to school at Georgia State University,” she said. “I decided to study literature simply because I loved to read. I got to read great books, talk about them in class, and, yes, write a lot of papers. And I loved it.”  

Dr. Joiner credits Georgia State University Professor Emerita of English Dr. Janet Gabler-Hover with solidifying her purpose and challenging her to “try something new, something foreign, but something, as it turns out, I was pretty good at: teaching.”

In turn, Dr. Joiner challenged the Class of 2022 “to find your edge that becomes the foundation of your purpose. No matter what your major, explore courses that not only deepen your knowledge of the subject matter but those that challenge you to see the world in new ways. It is in these courses that you can find an interest or way of thinking that is different from every other student’s with the same major as you. This is your edge.”  

Of Dr. Joiner’s three Ps, she believes people are the most important. 

“I am incredibly grateful for my people, and each and every one of you are my people,” she said. “Whether or not you are in my classes, you are a part of this amazing place. Your presence here shapes Keuka College. It wouldn’t be the same place without each and every one of you.”  

“My wish for each of you today—my challenge for you—is to look around the room: your three Ps are right here in Norton Chapel,” said Dr. Joiner. “Your Purpose: to find your edge. Your Place: Keuka College and all the opportunities it offers. Your People: everyone in this room; your classmates, your professors, wonderful staff members, and the administrative team. They are here to support you, challenge you, and help you create your space and forge your purpose. This year is an exciting new chapter at Keuka College, and we are all eager for it to commence.”  

In addition to Dr. Joiner, members of the Class of 2022 heard from Interim College President Amy Storey and Alan Ziegler, chair of the Board of Trustees.

Mr. Ziegler reminded students that they are among family.

“This place you’ve chosen for the next step on your life’s journey, Keuka College, stands on certain principles that will guide and support you in your learning process,” said Mr. Ziegler. “The entire Keuka College family—including the president and her Cabinet, the faculty, the College staff, and the trustees—all pledge to your growth and success.”

President Storey agreed and noted that no two Keuka College experiences will be the same.

“Each of us comes from a different home, and now for the first time, we’re all living together,” said President Storey. “From the friends you’ve already made, to the faculty who will guide you, to the trustees who will guide your college experience, you now enjoy the support of an entire group of people you just met last week.”

She also encouraged students to embrace change and challenges.

“And this family, this engagement, this reflection, this dialogue with those whose life experiences are very different from our own, not only enriches us, it broadens our understanding of one another,” President Storey said. “It enables us to recognize, pursue, and attain the type of wisdom that is reflective of citizens and leaders of the 21stcentury. Sample. Explore. Challenge yourselves. Don’t be afraid to try something new.”