Office Hours: Joy Melody Woods


Joy Melody Woods @smileitsjoy

Schools, Culture, and Society M.A. Student, with a concentration in Sociology of Education at the University of Iowa

B.S in Political Science from Texas Wesleyan University


What inspired you to attend grad school?

The inspiration came after I got here. And decided that if I was going to do this, then I needed to do something I was passionate about and that is when I switched programs.


Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?

Whew! There have been quite a few. I think my proudest grad school moment was when I decided to stand up for myself. And that standing up for myself was me making a statement with my feet so to speak. I moved to Iowa to get my MPH, however, after quite a few battles and racism I decided that was not the best fit so I found another program on campus. And that took quite a bit of guts, to move programs and not feel like a failure. But it was the best decision I ever made.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?

“Do not focus on what the University cannot provide, focus on what it can! And when you do that you will be able to find any resource you need. It may take longer but you can do it”


If you had to describe your #BlkGradLife experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?

"Keep the Devil off" x Big K.R.I.T. 

I mean he talks about how he used all the obstacles against him to build a strong foundation. How he stays focused and isn’t really worried about those around him. 

So that’s how I have been trying to look at this process that did not start out the best.


What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?

I think discovering that I have a reading impairment (only 8% of people processing things worse than me when it comes to reading) and I also have nonverbal learning disability. It was a lot to find out and I could have let it hold me down. But I guess the strategies I used were reaching out to the student disability services office and seeing what they could do for me.


What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?

That I actually have really good ideas. And that I need to stop second-guessing myself. That I have important things to say. But it also taught me that I really have a strong backbone and can stand up for myself and that even means if I have to find resources and mentors off campus.


If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself? Why?

Don’t worry about the people next to you. Just mind ya black ass business and do the best YOU can do! 

I would tell myself this because it would have lessened the imposter syndrome. I still would have had some, but not as much as I did.


How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?

They truly are the crux of who I am. I have always been Black lol, but attending an institution in the Mid-west where it is very passive aggressive, compared to the South, has truly been a struggle. But it also has allowed me to find even more strength in who I am. I was also diagnosed with three severe learning disabilities in the second semester of my Masters and that alone defined and answered a lot of questions that had gone unanswered for so long.


How do you intend to use your degree in the future?

I graduate this coming December, and I am applying to PhD programs that would begin in the Fall of 2019 in Organizational Communication. 

After I complete that, I want to be a tenure-track professor as well as consult with different sports organizations to help their players and staff communicate around mental health.


What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?

Make sure you are doing this for the right reasons. If you are not sure, do not start down this path yet. You do not have to have it all figured out but at least have figured out what is driving you, because if you do not then it will be easy to give up.

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