St. Bonaventure University

Alumni News

Empowered by Bona's

Aug 28, 2019

It took Jessie Briggs Joyce four visits to St. Bonaventure University’s campus before signing on as a student.

Today, it takes less than two seconds for the 2013 graduate to tell you she made the right choice. 

While at Bona’s, Briggs Joyce forged bonds with faculty and fellow students that empowered her, and found strengths she continues to draw on.

In May 2019, she earned a doctoral degree in social psychology from Temple University and this fall begins teaching at Syracuse University.

She points to her time at St. Bonaventure as a key ingredient in her success. From working as a student ambassador in the Office of Admissions to serving as a peer tutor and research assistant in the Department of Psychology, Briggs Joyce made use of all the university has to offer.  

“I had an unparalleled number of opportunities to plan and conduct research, including through my senior capstone, honor’s project, independent study and volunteering in faculty labs,” she said. 

Research she began at Bona’s for her honors thesis developed into graduate-level research of examining how a person’s memories and representations of their past change when their self-esteem has been threatened. 

Good mentors made all the difference, she noted. “So many intelligent and caring people shaped my experience.”

Dr. Greg Privitera, professor of psychology, left a lasting impression on her via his candor and raw honesty with students. He shared his personal journey of delaying college for a few years, using this message to illustrate “how impressed he was with us for setting and achieving goals, to remind us to appreciate the accomplishments we’ve already made, and to reassure us that we have the power to reach our happiness,” she said. “He is the only person I know that would literally stop class to tell his students they are loved.”  

Dr. Stephanie Vogel, department chair and assistant professor of psychology, proved to be the type of mentor Briggs Joyce hopes to become for her students. 

“As my Psi Chi and Psych Club adviser, Dr. Vogel empowered me to be a leader by enthusiastically supporting student-led initiatives. She also shaped my teaching style. As a professor, she paired high expectations with compassionate grading so that every student could rise to the challenge,” she said. 

Briggs Joyce also gives St. Bonaventure credit for success in her personal life. In September, she will marry into a legacy family. Her fiancé, Ryan Joyce, is a 2012 graduate who earned a B.S. in computer science and a minor in mathematics. Her future father-in-law, Steven Joyce, graduated from Bona’s in 1990 with a B.A. in social science and minors in theology and mass communication.

She said she will always be a Bonnie at heart.

“One of the lessons I learned while at St. Bonaventure was the value of community,” Briggs Joyce said. “Feeling a part of something larger, having a connection to a long line of Bonnies through our Franciscan heritage and campus traditions, made me feel more confident about my role in the bigger picture and the contribution I have to offer.”