13 Aug Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1959 Scholar Joyce Julia Walker
Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?
At 78, I’m finished with a 20-year career as a federal government career executive, international development work, and 40 years of dealing with difficult issues of jointly inherited and complex family property. After 20 moves as an adult, I’m settled into a retirement community in a leafy green part of Boston. I spend my time writing family history, keeping in touch with friends, organizing my possessions, making final arrangements, and enjoying nature and my many interests.
What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now?
The Boettcher Foundation’s confidence in my promise when I was 18 impressed others and enhanced my own sense of self. The dean who interviewed me for admittance to the honors program at my college seemed bored until I answered his question about whether I had a scholarship. I believe I was admitted to honors – and held other positions in college – at least partly because I bore the “Boettcher Scholar” seal of approval. Leaving college with a good record – made possible in part by the Boettcher – was a solid foundation from which to be admitted to graduate school, find good jobs, be confident that I knew how to make sound judgments, be a leader in groups, help others and work on getting difficult things done. My career in the federal government included 15 years of preparing budget requests made by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan to Congress. I’ve advised foreign countries – Sri Lanka, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts – on their budget processes. I’ve had the confidence to take time off from paid work to explore my interests.
Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work.
I’m a Master Gardener, meaning that I was trained in horticulture by the Extension Service of the USDA and completed their tests and public service requirements. For decades, I have worked to improve public green spaces. In that role I have renewed neglected gardens and removed overgrown/dead foliage that was obstructing public sidewalks, covering monuments or interfering with views. I’ve held offices and been actively involved in resident groups in buildings where I have lived. I’ve always voted and sometimes have done volunteer work for local candidates. I’ve befriended several people who struggle because they lack money, employment, education or advantage.
What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field?
Aim to become a person on whom nothing is lost. Pay attention to and try to understand others.
If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?
Women in my direct ancestral line – the one who came to Massachusetts from England in 1638; the one whose sister-in-law was accused of being a witch and spent time in Salem jail; the one whose husband died two weeks after one of the big battles in the French and Indian War and whose son was a captain in the Continental Army; the one who moved into the wilderness near Lake Erie; and all four of my great-grandmothers: the one who purchased the Colorado land on which I grew up, the one who lived in Colorado mining towns (Red Elephant, Silver Plume, Cripple Creek), the one who traveled by wagon from New York to Nebraska; and the one who disappeared without a trace in the aftermath of the Civil War.