College Choice Foundation Scholars - Joy Korley.jpg
College Choice Foundation Scholars - Joy Korley.jpg

Joy Korley

Joy Korley, Homewood High School Class of 2015, is a sophomore majoring in Pre-Med at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.


Joy Korley

Joy Korley, Homewood High School Class of 2015, is a sophomore majoring in Pre-Med at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Joy's Story

A person can live a lifetime without fully understanding his or her culture. Unfortunately, many people never question their heritage, perhaps because they have only experienced one particular lifestyle. People lacking cultural awareness are like trees without roots anchoring them, but I am a tree in full bloom firmly anchored to my family roots. It has taken many years and specific experiences for me to better understand and value my bifurcated culture, which is very different than the culture of my friends and their families. Integrating two very different cultures can be precarious if one assimilates them quickly and equally; balancing the lifestyles of two cultures only can be accomplished successfully if you infuse them slowly and carefully together over time. I have managed to be very successful in life so far because I learned how to reconcile my West African heritage with my American lifestyle.

My parents were born and raised in Ghana, West Africa. They moved to the United States before they had any children. My mother is a seamstress, and my father is a mathematician. My parents separated a few years ago, and I live with my mother and my little sister. Life has not been particularly easy for my family, mainly because of financial problems that never seemed to completely disappear. Further, there are certain cultural differences that divide my family from others in our small, conservative, "Baseball & Apple Pie" American community.

My first notable awareness that my family was different from other families happened when I was five years old, and it changed me. Until this moment, I was blissfully unaware that my family was different. One day, my preschool teacher handed me a plastic pumpkin overflowing with delicious treats. "It's called Halloween," I exclaimed to my parents. "Every child in the world dresses up and gets candy for free!" But my parents' response surprised and confused me. Admonishing me, they stated I could not participate in this "debauchery." Crushed, I settled with peeping out the window all night and living vicariously through the children decked out in colorful costumes such as Disney princesses and Bob the Builders. When I heard the first knock, my heart soared. I heard a chorus of kids yell "Trick or Treat," and was confused yet intrigued by this expression. I eagerly ran to the door, but my dad held me back because "the children at the door could be dangerous" he warned. A batch of boys, dressed up as different Marvel characters, held out pillowcases expectantly. I watched miserably as my dad retrieved my plastic pumpkin and emptied all of its contents equally into the boys' drool-stained sacks.

It took years for me to understand why I was the "only" kid in the neighborhood who could not trick or treat. Naturally, I initially resented my parents for not "buying into" the common American traditions like Halloween, Santa Clause, and the tooth fairy. But their unique customs and heritage have shaped me into someone unique. My insatiable curiosity, tenacious spirit and willingness to work hard in any situation have helped me hone the skills necessary to excel in life. My African heritage has helped me be very successful, academically, socially and civically.

Although my parents seemed to understand the importance of being driven and industrious in order to be successful, because of their diverse background and limited resources, they could not help me accomplish my goals. It was a difficult, unfamiliar world for them; really, they were just trying to stay afloat, trying to raise a large family in a country whose customs, expectations, social norms were foreign to them. But fortunately their unwavering encouragement, zealous enthusiasm and unconditional love really were all I needed to embrace my African heritage and infuse it into my American culture, and ultimately be victorious. I am very proud of my African heritage, and I would not trade my family dynamics for anything.


College education

Washington University in St. Louis | Senior

Anticipated Graduation: 2019

Major: Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Minor: Psychology & Global Health and the Environment

high school Education

Homewood High School | May 2015

GPA: 4.1

Class Rank: 14/248

ACT: 31 (Superscore)


Ervin Scholar | 2015-present

Miss Homewood | 2014

National Honor Society | 2014-2015

Beta Club | 2013-2015

Miss Heritage Class Queen | 2013

internships, work experience & Community Service 

The Bell Center Youth Alliance | 2013-2015

Service Over Self Missions | 2012-2014

Athletics, Activities, and Clubs

Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity 

Freshman Class President for Class of 2019

Conducted Research at the Shmulevich Lab | 2016

Track and Field | 2011-2015

Homewood Patriot Marching Band | 2011-2015

Student Government Association | 2009-2015

SGA Class President | 2015

Fellowship of Christian Athletes | 2011-2015

Chemistry Club (Founder and President) | 2013-2015

Spanish Club | 2013-2015

NASA's Macromolecular Crystallography Program | 2012-2014

Patriot Pride Ambassador | 2014-2015





College Scholars