Born in Metropolis, Joyner-Keene is a graduate of Metropolis Community High School and a graduate of Shawnee Community College. After living in the Carbondale area for many years, she has returned to where her college education started by taking on the reigns as the new director of the Metro Center, as of Sept. 4, replacing Dr. Sally West who recently retired.
“Education is in my blood,” explained Joyner-Keene. “My grandmother was a teacher. My mother was a teacher and a business owner. I have taught, but even more so I want to instruct people on the best way to achieve their educational goals.”
After receiving an associate’s degree in applied science, Joyner-Keene realized she wanted more than just a two-year degree. “At that point, I had three children and moved to Carbondale to attend Southern Illinois University, where I started my bachelor’s degree in business administration. However, my youngest son started to exhibit asthmatic systems. So, I bought a house in Carbondale to keep him near specialists and the hospital. At that point, I knew my life was stationary.”
Through those years, Joyner-Keene held several positions in the Carbondale-area, including that of supervisor of accounts receivable for the City of Carbondale, the executive director of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors and office manager for Star Human Services. She still managed to take classes at SIUC. She not only finished her bachelor’s but received a master’s in rehabilitation administration in 1994.
In 1992, her career path lead her back to SIUC to the Evaluation and Development Center, where she was employed as work experience coordinator and an assistant to the placement specialist. Joyner-Keene helped students with job seeking skills training, job development and job coaching.
Thanks to the encouragement of her department chair, Joyner-Keene decided to work toward her doctoral degree in 1999 and has finished the program except for completing her dissertation. “I still want to finish it and hope to do it online,” she said.
She is excited to be back home, stating: “My foundation of education started with Shawnee College, and due to my mother’s age, I just felt it was time to come back home.”
Joyner-Keene hopes to share her work ethic with the Metro Center students. “I have a certain work ethic that I would like to share with our students; because you get what you work for. I hope to install into them the passion for education and persistent to show up and do something with their lives.
“I want to help those who want something, and who are not satisfied with nothing,” continued Joyner-Keene. “If they are willing to work for it, we are willing to help them here at Shawnee College. A lot of our students are first generation students, and they have no idea what they are getting into when they attend college; so I want to let them know that we are here to help, especially if they apply themselves.
“Education will do nothing but help you, and the Metro Center and Shawnee College is a great place to start,” she concluded. “We are small enough for individual attention, unlike classes of 200 at a larger university, and we care about what they (the students) do.”