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Katie Joyce at Phoenix Snow Park before Shaun White’s gold medal winning halfpipe run.

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Katie Joyce, formerly of Avoca and now studying tourism at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., poses with the PyeongChang Olympic mascots, Soohorang, a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear that is the mascot for the Paralympics.

Olympians possess a tremendous ability to focus. They train to become masters of their sport and pour every ounce of their energy into their performance, tuning out the world around them.

Katie Joyce is training to master her craft at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, this month. She too must be focused, determined and self-disciplined. However, her event does not require her to discount the world around her. In fact, Joyce needs to observe it keenly.

As a 24-year-old graduate student at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., pursuing a master of tourism administration degree, Joyce is part of a select group of students gaining hands-on experience working with Olympic and government officials, staff and sponsors.

“George Washington University has a great reputation for its tourism administration program, and this course wouldn’t be possible without the work of my professor, Dr. Lisa Nierotti,” Joyce explained.

The course, “Behind the Scenes at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games,” provides Joyce and her peers with a unique blend of classroom lectures and direct work experiences on a daily basis throughout the entire games. During her time in PyeongChang, Joyce will study the various logistical and business aspects of the Olympic Games and gain professional knowledge working side-by-side with high ranking Olympic administrators.

“We met with the chief executive officer of the International Paralympic Games (IPC), Xavier Gonzalez,” Joyce said of her first day at the games. “We discussed the intricate relationship of the IPC and the International Olympic Games.”

In addition to these essential meetings, Joyce will also assist Olympic executives in collecting information for planning future games.

“The purpose of this research is to help future games be more efficient and sustainable,” Joyce said. “It seems like tedious work, but the research collected in previous games have already helped with the transfer of knowledge between past host cities and future hosts.”

During her stay in South Korea, Joyce certainly will be busy completing all of her assigned tasks, but she has also scheduled her time wisely to work as a volunteer at the USA House in the Olympic Village and meet athletes and spectators from around the world.

“I’m very excited to represent the United States,” Joyce said. “It’s a great opportunity to experience a new culture and to get to share mine as well.”

Joyce, who is the daughter of Avoca residents Erin and James Joyce, is a 2011 graduate of Pittston Area High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication, with a concentration in advertising and public relations, and a second degree in foreign languages, with a focus in Spanish, from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 2015. Joyce works as a tour scheduler at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, United States Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C. In the future, she plans to work in sustainable tourism and help small communities improve their destination to create economic growth.

To learn more about Joyce’s Olympic adventures, visit her blog at