Joye Williams | Recent Grad and Generous Donor

Joye Wilverlyn

Recent Grad Creates Named Scholarship

  • Wilverlyn Joye Williams BA ’04, MA ’18 PAA
  • Waukegan, Illinois
  • Professional Position: Ombudsman/paralegal in the Public Benefits Practice Group at LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago); she helps protect the rights of residents in assisted living and long-term residential care facilities.

Scholarship Details

In January 2019, barely seven months after completing her master’s degree in Legal Studies, Joye created an endowed fund at UIS: the Lawrence E. Williams/Dr. Larry Golden Illinois Innocence Project Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is for individuals:

  • who were victims of a wrongful conviction,
  • who have a felony who want to reintegrate into society by furthering their education,
  • or who work with the Illinois Innocence Project.

The scholarship excludes individuals with some types of violent crimes.

By creating the scholarship when she did, Joye became the most recently graduated alum to have her own named scholarship. We asked her about giving:

Joye Shares Why She Gives

Where does your commitment to philanthropy come from?
The Bible teaches that to whom much is given, much is required. I have been very blessed in my life, so giving back is mandatory. I cannot repay those who helped me, but I am able to pay it forward.

What inspired you to create this scholarship?
My son is currently experiencing major difficulties as a result of having a felony record. I named the scholarship in his honor. I also named the scholarship for Dr. Larry Golden, my undergraduate advisor and now dear friend. He co-founded and works tirelessly for the Illinois Innocence Project.

You have been a scholarship recipient yourself. What did that mean to you?
I would never have been able to finance my education on my own. UIS makes the process quite easy to apply. It was well worth the effort and time to apply.

Have you gotten to know any of your scholarship donors?
Rose Marie Roach was the donor for my grad scholarships. She is an amazing woman, my benefactor, idol, confidant, and friend. When it looked as though my 92-year-old mother would be unable to attend my graduation, Rose (also over 90) told me, “I’ll be there and make enough noise for both of us.” Fortunately, both were in attendance, and true to form, they were among the loudest people in the audience. I told them, “Thank God I have a Legal Studies degree. I should be able to get two over-ninety-year-old women out of jail for disorderly conduct!” It was one of the best days of my life.

Joye Williams, her mother and Rose Marie Roach
Rose Marie Roach (scholarship donor), Joye Williams, Wilverlyn M. Williams (Joye’s mother)

What would you say to encourage UIS alumni to create a scholarship of their own at UIS?
It’s easy. It’s gratifying. It’s the right thing to do. We all want to live forever. Your name on a scholarship is your ticket to eternity.

Do You Share Joye’s Commitment?

If you share Joye’s commitment to help recently imprisoned individuals, you can add a gift in any size to her scholarship fund here. She said, “Actually, I am celebrating my 65th birthday this year, so I am requesting all my friends, family, acquaintances, relatives—anybody—to please donate a minimum of $65 toward the fund. It will not decrease my obligation. It will increase the amount of the scholarship!”