Joyce Williamson Rogers is a proud Indianapolis Public School (IPS) alumna, who, to
this day, views her experience at IPS as rewarding for both herself and her
family.
Joyce Rogers
“All of my personal relationships developed and several memorable historical events took
place during my time at IPS,” said Rogers.
She recalls
being at school when President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. were shot, and when the first astronaut walked on the moon. She still
remembers the teachers running through the halls crying with the news about
Kennedy and King, as well as the exciting conversations and discussions had
around a man walking on the moon when classes resumed.
Rogers
believes IPS prepared her well for her life beyond high school and is largely
responsible for who she is today.
Throughout
her life, Rogers has held positons in leadership, operations, development,
community and philanthropy. She graduated from Indiana State University in 1979
with a B.S. in psychological applications and child development & family life,
and received her J.D. from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of
Law in 1996. Rogers was inducted into the IPS Education Foundation Hall of Fame
in 2011.
Early life in Indianapolis …

I grew up in
Indianapolis. My dad was a minister; therefore, I was raised in a stern and
religious environment. I attended School 41 (George W. Sloan), Kennedy Middle
School and John Marshall High School. It was at School 41 that my 7th-grade
teacher (professor) Dr. John Morton-Finney impressed upon me that I could do
anything in life that I wanted. You see, Dr. Morton-Finney had several degrees.
The one that stands out in my mind was his law degree.  Yes, I said law degree. Dr. Morton-Finney was
teaching grade school as opposed to practicing law because when he finished law
school, African-Americans were not allowed to take the bar in the state of
Indiana.

This stood
out in my mind, and actually the thought horrified me at times. However, Dr.
Morton-Finney taught us to go as far as you can and get as much education as
you can no matter how hard it is. He is the first person that I heard say that
people of color have to do more to be successful and that education is the one
thing that can never be taken away from you. It was during this time that I
decided that I would go to law school and that I would sit for the Indiana
State Bar.
Unlike
neighborhoods of today, all walks of life, including socio-economic status,
position titles and education levels shared the same neighborhoods where we all
took care of and looked out for each other. While this was largely because of
segregation and not choice, many communities today do lack the comradery,
concern and care that took place during this time for families sharing the same
neighborhoods.
Your experience at John Marshall …

John
Marshall was practically a brand new school when I began as a freshman and
bussing in African-Americans students was a new occurrence. I lived in
Shortridge High School’s district at the time; however, I joined a couple of my
junior high school friends who chose to go to the ‘shiny new school.’ Meeting
many new friends outside of my neighborhood provided lasting relationships that
continue to impact my life still today.

I recently
attended our 40th class reunion, where we reflected on how time has
flown by, but it was definitely worth the time to reconnect and catch up with
my JMHS classmates.
My IPS education prepared me for …

My IPS
education prepared me for LIFE. It prepared me for the good, but it also let me
know that there would be both bad and ugly. IPS taught me, especially as a
person of color, about resiliency and to focus on the outcome and not those
things that could get you off track.

Fondest IPS memory as a student …

In grade
school it was about the music and the art! I first learned about classical
music, Mozart and Beethoven, while at IPS. Oh, how I loved music memory class.
And the arts, I’m not sure why anyone would ever entertain cutting art
programs. I remember all of the lessons learned and the time spent teaching us
the importance of creativity.

In junior
high, I was a cheerleader and loved it! While I was pretty good in kickball, I
was even better at cheering for our teams.
And at John
Marshall — Mr. Burleson, Ms. Hardwick and Ms. Esten, and all those wonderful
bird-watching field trips. My favorite English teacher was Mrs. Conn. She is
still as beautiful as ever and I still give her a hug every time I see her.
I don’t
think people today understand the comradery, loyalty and devotion that happens
at IPS.
Your life since graduating …

I like
sharing my public education with my children, sharing my positive experience
and how things were when I was in school.

I now serve
as the vice president for development and external relations for Diversity,
Equity, and Multicultural Affairs at Indiana University Foundation. During my
career, I’ve worked as an entrepreneur and in public service, non-profit
leadership and education, in addition to serving on many boards. All are an
attestation to the fact that my early life in IPS truly prepared me to be
whatever I wanted to be!
Proudest accomplishments …

I am proud
of graduating from law school and passing the Indiana State Bar, and I know Dr.
Morton-Finney would be proud of me, too.

I am so very
proud of my children. And while they did not attend IPS, they all have grown to
be the wonderful adults who are benefiting from the teachings and the stories
about IPS from myself, their dad and our friends.
I became the
first female to serve in the role of president of Indiana Black Expo. Leading
the largest African-American event during this time in the country made me so
proud to work with so many great people to achieve a whirlwind of successes
such as the Rev. Charles Williams Prostate Cancer Mobile Unit and the State of Our
Black Youth Report.
Interests/ Hobbies …

I like old movies, my favorites are “Gone with the Wind” and “Casablanca.”  I also like to exercise, read, meditate and
travel.

Vision … 

My dream is to live in a kinder,
gentler world where every life has value, just because …

Final Quote …

“Live the
life you dream. Life happens, but how you respond is what truly counts.”