At Howard Payne College, Joy participated as the pianist for many musical groups, especially at the noon Sing-Spiration sessions in the school of music. She played the choruses and songs by-ear rather than by reading sheet music. During this time, she was voted one of the “Twelve Most Beautiful Girls” at Howard Payne and “Sweetheart” of the campus Kiwanis organization.

In Sept. 1956, after two years of marriage, Joy became pregnant with her first child, the future Russell Lynn McClellan who would be born in March of 1957. Remarkably, Joy graduated in May 1957 with a baccalaureate degree in education.