Theresa Jones: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... it cultivates confidence, growth, and success!

Stasia Lopez's picture

Theresa Jones graduated in 2011 from the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)-Boyce Campus with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and continued her education by earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services from Geneva College and a Master of Arts Degree in Criminology from Indiana University of PA. Theresa began her career at CCAC in 2009 as a work-study in the Career Services Department. The upward progression of her career advanced rather swiftly when she had the opportunity to serve as the first Student Success Coach for the East/West Project. She is currently employed as a Student Support Specialist for the HPOG Grant at CCAC. 

Theresa Jones: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... it cultivates confidence, growth, and success!

How did you choose your major? What motivated you to choose that field/profession? 
My educational choices seemed to follow whatever path I was taking on personally at the time but has continuously been centered around people in some form or another. I have always had the desire to be an entrepreneur early on in life, so I first chose Business Management. I then changed my major to Criminal Justice, thinking I could save the world. After starting my family and after many years away from academia, I set my heart on molding young minds and chose Early Childhood Education. I accumulated many credits and thought it wise to earn my degree in Liberal Arts. I sincerely love people and helping in any way that I can. My desire to be involved in making positive change in the lives of others has led my studies in different capacities and continues to motivate my employment choices. 

What did you enjoy about attending CCAC? Any memorable moment to share? 
Because the Boyce Campus was only a seven-minute drive from home, I loved the convenience of taking classes at the Boyce Campus. This made college very accessible. Smaller classroom sizes made connecting with my instructors possible. This was a huge contributing factor to my academic success. I felt like a person, not a number in a seat. This experience created the confidence I needed to feel supported in the classroom.

How involved were you at CCAC? Did you study abroad? Did you have internships or Co-Ops? Clinicals and/or practicums? Were you a part of any clubs, sports, or extracurriculars? 
While attending CCAC Boyce, I worked as a Work Study in Career Services under Dr. Pamela Nichols; this was the greatest experience of all. I participated in setting up all job fairs, assisting students and community members with writing resumes, and ran the Federal Work Study Program for our campus. I also served as President of The Future Teachers Club while pursuing my Early Childhood Education credits.

Theresa Jones: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... it cultivates confidence, growth, and success!

Did any of these experiences lead you into realizing your passions for work and career? If so, how? 
Helping others is embedded in my core; all of my life's involvements have been surrounded by this theme. I experience great joy connecting with and helping others. I believe that the experiences I encountered at CCAC has solidified my calling.

What skills did you gain that you could take into a workplace? 
Interpersonal skills, leadership, problem solving, confidence, time management, and critical thinking are some of the skills I have gained while attending CCAC Boyce. I believe that these skills are not only important workplace skills, but also important life skills for every student/person to learn. 

What are you hoping to do next? What would you like to do professionally? 
I would like further my training in leadership by completing CCAC's LDI Training. I would then like to display the leadership skills developed in a Director’s position at CCAC. My professional plan is to just keep learning and growing with CCAC. I love the CCAC student culture, and I would like to continue to make a difference in the lives of our students.

How do you manage stress (most especially during these uncertain times)? 
I manage stress by keeping a calm head. Recognizing what is causing my stress and finding a way to eliminate it helps me manage the stress I am feeling. Taking slow deep breaths to help calm myself also helps–then I try to just power through any stress. 

What do you want prospective college students to know—what advice do you have for them? 
My advice to students is believe in yourself–you CAN absolutely do this! Set your mind on the end goal and focus your thoughts it daily. You have to adopt the attitude of, I CAN, I WILL, WATCH ME. Education is one of the biggest investments in yourself–take it seriously and achieve it. What kept me going and I still use today are these two words: Determination and Perseverance. Be determined to reach your goals, and persevere thru anything that tries to keep you from reaching your goals.

Believe in yourself–you CAN absolutely do this! Adopt the attitude of I CAN, I WILL, WATCH ME. From Theresa Jones: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... it cultivates confidence, growth, and success!

Who inspires you and why? Do you have any mentors or people of influence in your life? 
We all have a story; I find inspiration everywhere. Individuals who have pushed through circumstances and came out on top, people who never blink an eye and jump in to help others, others just doing great deeds out of the kindness of their hearts; these are the individuals who inspire me. In 2009, working as a Work Study under Dr. Pamela Nichols, I was not looking for a mentor. However, I found exactly what I never knew I needed. Working under Dr. Nichols’ leadership was nothing I had ever experienced prior; she motivated me, challenged me, and encouraged me. She believed in me when I had doubts of my own abilities. I remember Dr. Pamela would always say, “I am not your boss, we work together,” and that we did! She heard my ideas and valued them as a member of Career Services. I was not just a work-study student completing hours while obtaining my degree at CCAC–I too was part of the team! I am forever indebted to the time, effort, and commitment she poured into me as a student trying to get through school. I was not looking for a mentor…however, I received so much more.

Theresa Jones: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... it cultivates confidence, growth, and success!

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Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is Director of Student Life and Engagement at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), as well as an Instructor for a class on "The Job Search" at CCAC. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University in 2013 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel, college to career topics and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.