Jones awarded for making a difference at university, local community

Photo Credit: Jeannette Eileen Jones
Fri, 04/21/2017 - 08:49

13 years ago, Jeannette Eileen Jones accepted a job offer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has taught on campus ever since. Today Jones is an associate professor of history and ethnic studies.

After receiving her doctorate from SUNY Buffalo State in 2003, she began a national job search. Jones chose Nebraska because she believed Lincoln was the best fit for her, though she now admits it was a culture shock after living her entire life on the East Coast. 

“I realized you have to make home where you are,” she said.

Jones was the 2017 recipient of the Melvin W. Jones Mentoring Award. The award “is presented annually to honor a member of the community who impacts the lives of others through the development of significant mentoring relationships, encourages and inspires others in mentoring relationships and demonstrates servant leadership through commitment to mentoring relationships and promoting diversity in community leadership,” according to Leadership Lincoln’s website. 

In a statement announcing Jones as this year’s recipient, Mick Hale, the executive director of Leadership Lincoln, said Jones has been “a pillar of support for students of color on the UNL campus for many years.”

“At first I was shocked,” Jones said. “Then I was overwhelmed. Then I felt humbled.”

Leadership Lincoln celebrated Jones, along with other award recipients, on April 7, at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The volunteers of the Clinic Operations Group for A Clinic with a Heart were honored with  the Bud Cuca Servant Leader of the Year Award.

Jones serves as president of NAACP’s Lincoln branch, after formerly serving as the group’s vice president. In 2016 Jones also received the College Distinguished Teaching Award. Jones also works with the university’s Black Lives Matter group and the Black Graduate Student Association.

“I don’t do what I do to win awards,” Jones said. “I do what I do because I really believe in it. I believe in social justice; I believe in community and in public service.”

Rileigh Hurd, an undeclared freshman, is taking a course from  Jones.

“She’s very involved on campus, and I think she really wants to do good work in our community,” Hurd said.

Hurd also said she thinks any student who has had Jones can tell she isn’t just at the school to teach.

“I hope my students don’t just see me as someone who talks but also as someone who can walk the talk,” Jones said. “That I do this to live in a better place.”

Story and photo from the Daily Nebraskan.