CUPE 3911 is very pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2003 Bryon Paege Memorial Award is Joy Yi Zhou-Krys. Joy’s self-nomination is very strongly supported by references from her tutor, Louise Fournet, and from Tamra Ross Low, Editor in Chief of the AUSU “The Voice”.
Joy is originally from China, where she had a satisfying job and many friends. However, as she says, she “suddenly became nobody since I stepped onto this new land – Canada.” “I told myself” says Joy, that “I had to start over because I am going to spend the rest of my life in this country…” She determined to put her efforts into eliminating the gap between herself and those who were born here: “That is [she determined] to study.”
But how to accomplish this?
Joy is married, with a 2-year old son and a new baby on the way. In May she and her family found a “cheap basement apartment”, but for 8 months before that they lived in an abandoned farmhouse outside of Edmonton.
Loaned free of charge by an in-law, the house had no running water or heat, but did have cracked floors and mice. These were, says Joy, “the darkest days yet proudest experience in my life.”
Even with a strong will, Joy says she found herself feeling “so helpless” to make her dreams of studying come true. Time and money – the lack of these – appeared to present insurmountable obstacles. Then, one day, another young mother she met in the playground while their children played together told her about Athabasca University.
“The good thing is” says Joy, “my studies went very well.” Tutor Louise Fournet confirms that Joy “is, without a doubt, an excellent student…[in] this demanding course. Her quizzes and assignment results are outstanding and she knows the subject matter inside out.”
As would be expected, Joy states that she puts a lot of time and effort into her academic work. Even so, just 9 days after she enrolled with AU, Joy formed the on-line Student Moms’ Club of the Athabasca University
Tamra Ross Low worked with Joy to create the Club website. She says, “The Student Moms’ Club was entirely Joy’s idea… her intention was to provide an online community where young student mothers could gather for support, inspiration, and advice… At this time there are 17 young mothers registered as members of the SMC, but many more women visit the site and its popular discussion forums. The club members have embraced Joy’s vision, and there is much sharing of support and advice on how to succeed as both a student, and a mother…”
As well, Ms. Ross Low writes that Joy has been very innovative in finding other new ways to foster a community spirit as a distance education student. “Joy was the first student to come up with the idea of meeting a Study Buddy… in the [AUSU] chat-room so that they could study online in real time together. Her idea is an excellent one, and it is something that AUSU is now actively promoting.”
Ms. Ross Low goes on:
“While many people in this situation might have given up…Joy instead decided to make the very best of her new life and to help out other young mothers along the way…I’m a very impressed that Joy took such a proactive approach to her problems, and I admire her determination to help others in the process of helping herself. I think that she is an excellent example of how to best overcome adversity through self-motivation, generosity, and empathy for others.”