|About Joyce Cain|
When Joyce Cain came to our college in the 1980s. she added much needed new perspectives and experiences to our growing group of internationally active faculty. Like a number of other outstanding internationally oriented faculty in our college, she had earned her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Joyce was intensely interested in Sub-Saharan African countries. Her special focus was on teacher education and educational change in Southern Africa. She was with us during the years when we had a very active special interest group for African students.
In 1987 joyce was an external examiner for teacher training colleges in Zimbabwe. Later in 1990-91 she was co-leader, with John Metzler, of a Fulbright Group Projects Abroad project which took thirteen U.S. professors of education to the University of Zimbabwe and associated teacher training colleges for six weeks to study teacher education there. The participants came from diverse institutions of higher education in the U.S .. and it is worthwhile to note that eight of the participants were African Americans.
Joyce also had a strong interest in international development projects. For example. she worked in Botswana on a USAID project to integrate health education, population education and environmental education into the basic education curriculum in the country. Those were the years when it was still very difficult to discuss HIV/AIDS and how it could be prevented in such countries. Joyce talked to us often about what it was like as an African-American woman to deal with issues of sex education in such an environment where many believed they could not be dealt with in school. Nevertheless. this difficulty did nothing to diminish joyce's enthusiasm for this work.
Joyce was also on the organizing committee for the very successful CIES Midwest Regional Meetings we organized in 1993 which attracted some 200 participants from 38 colleges and universities. During this event. joyce was on a panel with other MSU faculty members, titled "What we have learned from the grassroots study of education in less industrialized countries that has importance for educators in general.'
On a personal level, joyce was a wonderful, warm human being who brought light and cheers into the office every day. She also had the most fantastic sense of humor even when times were very hard for her. Her sharp wit often had us in stitches. It was a joy to share an office bay with her on the second floor of Erickson Hall. Joyce died far too young from the kind of stomach cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She had already made one major medical sacrifice earlier by giving one of her kidneys to her sister. As far as I remember, it must have been about a year before her death when she discovered she had cancer and learned that it was terminal. I actually visited her at the hospital the day she was told. I couldn't believe it; it was unreal. On the surface she was completely herself. Here was this single mother, solely responsible for a son who, if I remember right, was of middle school age. making light of what the doctor had said. And so it continued at least in public right up to the end--such courage and resolve to show others she was still the Joyce Cain we knew and loved. The grief we felt was palpable when we attended her last rites at St. Mary's Cathedral in Lansing, Michigan.
By Jack Schwille, Ph.D.