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Jaylon Joyner

Jaylon Joyner

Making ‘Doc’ proud

Jaylon Joyner is a man with a plan. And that plan is all about preparing for the unknown.

Joyner, an Illinois State University senior, wants to be an athletic trainer, the person who runs onto the field when someone gets hurt. He’ll have to make split-second decisions about what to do next.

“I like that it’s spontaneous, that you never know what you’re getting yourself into,” said Joyner, an athletic training and physical education teacher education double major.

Joyner has a clear path toward reaching his career goal, thanks in large part to private giving and scholarships. This year Joyner was the recipient of two scholarship awards in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation, including the Robert “Doc” Kief Scholarship.

Kief was an Illinois State faculty member and Redbird athletic trainer. The scholarship for students majoring in athletic training was established after his death in 2013 by his wife, Joyce Morton Kief, who taught at ISU.

“Our generous donors make it possible for students to realize their passion during their time at Illinois State University,” said Jan Murphy, interim dean for the College of Applied Science and Technology. “In today’s job market, a college degree is more important than ever, and private gifts allow a student to continue learning without interruptions or distractions. We are grateful to our many donors for the extraordinary support they provide to our students.”

Like Joyner, Kief had both a physical education and athletic training background. Kief was a nontraditional student himself, enrolling at Illinois State in the 1960s at age 39. Joyner is the first in his family to attend college.

“That meant a lot to me,” Joyner said. “I’m taking the same steps he did when he was in college.”

Joyner has excelled at Illinois State, in and out of the classroom. The University Scholar is an Honors student, a resident assistant, and president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He’s also enjoying his experiences in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation, especially clinical rotations that have already placed him with the Redbird baseball, track and field, and football teams.

Joyner has his career plan sketched out in great detail. He wants to work as an athletic trainer and teacher at a high school, maybe even be an athletics director someday. He plans to finish his undergraduate education in May 2018, and then go to graduate school in Chicago.

But to graduate on time, he’s taking a lot of credit hours each semester.

“So that extra scholarship money definitely helps out,” Joyner said. “I’m very honored to receive it.”