If you step into the cozy yellows of Joy Starbird’s office, you will instantly feel the warmth that radiates from her garden-esque decorum and fills the small area. Her smile and welcoming disposition seem to radiate that same warmth and positivity, and she is using that positivity to help students in any way she can. Starbird is Maryville College’s Student Support and Outreach Specialist, a position that was essentially created as she stepped into it in November of 2021.
In the last few years, Student Affairs has rotated through a few different support positions, dividing up the responsibilities as necessary. For now, Starbird’s position encompasses helping keep students enrolled and able to meet their basic needs. This supportive role may look different on different days, but one constant for Starbird and her passion project has been Scots’ Supplies.
Scots’ Supplies, located in Bartlett 319—across from the elevator—began with a grant that allowed the Career Center Closet to expand to meet more of students’ needs. This space is full of resources like personal care items, clothing and food, or even some items like plants or school supplies from time to time. Starbird works to sort donations, keep the necessary items ordered and stocked, and listen to students’ needs to know what to put in the room. With all of this, she hopes having some extra resources readily accessible will foster well-being for students who utilize it.
“The main goal,” said Starbird, “is to keep money in your pockets.”
She encourages students to come by if they need to save their money for books, tuition, bills or other important things. She also encourages students to donate if they have extra items, especially at the end of the semester. Starbird and Program Assistant Tammy Brown have also opened up an Amazon link that allows anyone to donate directly from their computer or mobile device.
Scots’ Supplies is open Monday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Items vary depending on the week, so Starbird suggests checking back every so often. To make the room more welcoming, she has an ambitious plan: a mural across one whole wall, plus more warm decor to fill up the space.
“I’m trying to revamp the store to make it look more appealing to college students,” Starbird said.
Starbird hopes that an MC alum will begin work on the art piece soon, inspired by her own connection to the Cherokee tribe and early Europeans that settled in the area. Once approved, the mural, which she plans to be an authentic representation of Blount County’s diverse history, will take about a month to complete. It is just one way Starbird intends to leave a mark on MC.
After studying and working at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for about 25 years and retiring from the Department of Corrections, Starbird came to MC to use her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and background in case management in a different way. She coordinates the Swipes for Scots program, which helps ensure students have enough meal swipes for the semester. She also helps students who are considering withdrawing from the college access resources on and off campus that can help them overcome obstacles to graduating. She offers guidance on finding insurance, building credit and preparing for the future.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” Starbird said.
She wants students to complete their degrees and find success at Maryville, in order to set themselves up for success down the road. However, she knows there can be a stigma around reaching out for support.
“I notice that sometimes people feel it’s hard to take help,” Starbird said.
Starbird strives to keep the Supplies space and her office open to anyone and encourages students to email her if they have any questions or suggestions. Alternatively, a suggestion box sits by the door in the Scots’ Supplies room for anyone who wants to drop their ideas or needs.
“Everything is always changing, just like Tennessee weather,” Starbird said.
She reminds students that struggles in life are often temporary, so they should try to keep their long-term goals in mind. Starbird’s role has become an invaluable part of campus life, even if it is not always seen or heard. She uses a spirit of giving—which she believes she and her sister inherited from their mother and grandmother—to live up to Maryville College’s mission to challenge each to “dedicate a life of creativity and service” to those around them.
To donate to Scots’ Supplies, you can visit https://a.co/9soQimC, or bring your donations to Bartlett 319. For more ways to get involved or find support on campus, Joy Starbird can be contacted at [email protected] or in-person in Bartlett 339.