The Joyce B. and Bob L. Miles Scholarship in Human Sciences supports Florida State University College of Human Sciences students financially but also provides another valuable resource—academic and career guidance from the scholarship donors.
Joyce, a consumer and family sciences alumna of Purdue University with a master’s in vocational education from Florida State, and Bob, an engineering alumnus of Purdue, awarded their first scholarship in 2014 to Amanda Messingschlager, a senior family and child sciences major.
“We met with Amanda on campus and asked if there were any challenges that we could help with,” Joyce said. “Scholarship students often don’t know our connections. I work with people all over the country and in every state, particularly in education.”
With plans of attending graduate school for occupational therapy, Amanda accepted Joyce and Bob’s offer and asked for them to write her a recommendation letter and review her resume.
“Not many students are lucky enough to meet the founder of their scholarship and receive additional help from them like I was able to,” Amanda said. “I felt like this made me stand out a little more in the [graduate school] application process because I was able to build a personal relationship with someone other than professors.”
Joyce and Bob recently met their second scholarship recipient—Jy’Shawn O’Neal, a senior family and child sciences major, who wants to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership.
“I was actually surprised and excited when I heard that Mr. and Mrs. Miles wanted to meet with me,” Jy’Shawn said. “I wanted to meet the selfless people who generously donated their money to help individuals like me pursue their dreams. They have many connections at Florida State and were willing to help me find more information on graduate school and the different possibilities within the area I want to receive my master’s degree in.”
Joyce and Bob met while they were students at Purdue University and subsequently moved to Chicago after graduation. In 1965, they relocated to Jacksonville, Fla., where they would stay for the next 40 years. In the 1970s, Joyce was teaching home economics for Duval County Schools when she heard that FSU’s College of Education would be offering a master’s program in vocational education in Jacksonville. She took advantage of this opportunity and participated as one of nearly 70 people in the Jacksonville program.
Joyce’s career has focused on leadership, education and community involvement. She serves on the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees and is a founding member of the Women for Florida State University. Joyce has been recognized by numerous organizations for her public service, including the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Duval County Cooperative Extension Office and three awards from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences—the Leader Award, Distinguished Service Award and the Wiley-Berger Award for Volunteerism.
“I think education is one of the best returns on your giving investment,” Joyce said. “It’s fun to have a student connection to the University because obviously that’s why the University exists—it’s the educational environment of our next generation.”
Back in 1997, Joyce and Bob decided that, upon their passing, they want part of their estate to benefit the College of Human Sciences. This donation was revisited in 2012 when Joyce and Bob decided they wanted to connect with students while they were alive, not just benefit them with a will bequest after they were gone. They funded an endowed scholarship to make sure this student connection happened, and now, a portion of their estate plan will benefit their scholarship and the remainder will go to the Women for FSU Endowed Fund.
“A longtime friend once told me, ‘One of the values of giving while you’re living is that you’re knowing where it’s going.’ Our money when we’re gone will do a lot of good, but seeing where it’s going is the biggest joy,” Joyce said. “If we could afford it we would have 10 scholarships.”
Although Amanda has already graduated from Florida State, and Jy’Shawn is set to graduate in May, Joyce and Bob hope to maintain these relationships—something that both Amanda and Jy’Shawn also look forward to.
“This scholarship was extremely beneficial to me because from it, I was able to build a relationship that would help me with my future academic goals,” Amanda said.
“To have people who are willing to give some of what they have to bless another person is a selfless and remarkable gesture. I hope to keep in touch with them as the years go on,” Jy’Shawn added. “They are wonderful people and I am happy they are doing such great things.”