Mahlia Joyce, Westminster native and graduate of McDaniel College, is back as the Acting Director of The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Last year in wake of Ms. Zephia Bryant’s resignation as the Director of the Office of Multicultural Services, Joyce was asked by McDaniel College to serve as the Interim Coordinator while the search for a new director was underway.
Joyce had also been teaching at the Gateway School, an alternative secondary school for Carroll County Public School System, for quite some time. During her first year at Gateway she was working for The Office of Multicultural Services (OMS) part time as a Graduate Assistant. She had to leave McDaniel the following academic year when Gateway offered her a full-time position teaching Spanish. She knew that someday, she would return to McDaniel again. Joyce and McDaniel have a deep-rooted connection, or as she would like to call it “a relationship”.
She says “I always knew that the college was up here. I came to some activities from time to time, but never quite felt connected or that it was within my reach. Once I took my first semester of classes though, I was hooked. A very interesting romance began. I think of my relationship with the College in those terms sometimes”.
When she became of age, her main priority was leaving Westminster for good. However, the decision to attend college was not the solution for Joyce. Instead she joined the military but she didn’t quite find the contentment she was looking for. It was after a friend suggested taking classes at The College of Western Maryland that she applied and began her undergraduate studies. Unfortunately, after she left campus to study abroad for a semester in 1994, finishing college was no longer an option for her. “I had moved away (finally! I thought) by that time. Life, my heart, my roots…something called me back to – you guessed it, back Westminster and WMC in 2001.”
She compares Westminster to “a warm hearth”. During the eight years that she has been here she has developed a much deeper appreciation for her roots in Carroll County. “I’ve [even] been able to trace part of my family tree to the early 1800s not even five minutes away from campus.”
Joyce is looking forward to many new experiences here at McDaniel and hopes that she will be able to impact the lives of the students that she comes in contact with. Rather than just be known as the Director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, she wants to be viewed as a resource because “increasing educational opportunities to engage and promote diversity” is her passion.
Office Assistant for The ODMA, Callia Crossman, class of ’10, has been at McDaniel College all four years and says that besides the name change from The OMS to The ODMA, it is hard for a student that is new to this campus to notice the transition. Crossman says “Ms. Mahlia is an innovative director, and she is excellent at what she does. The only thing that I would really like to see happen is The ODMS gain more publicity on campus, but there is no doubt that Ms. Mahlia will make it happen.”
Joyce likes to think of her life as having existed in two or more worlds: “Personally, I see the work that I do to be an extension of who I am as a person in the sense that I try to bridge those multiple parts of my identity. Ira Zepp talked about that – having a foot in both worlds, especially when they seem at odds with each other.”