Giving back is part of Cymone Jones’ character. And it’s the focus of her education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. But there was a point at which she didn’t think college would be an option.
“I come from a family where you were lucky if you graduated from high school. I had people telling me I wasn’t smart enough or I would never have the money for college,” Jones said.
But with the help and encouragement of her school counselor, she came to realize she could get to college and succeed. “I had good grades. I just didn’t think they were good enough,” she said.
Out of this experience was born a desire to become a school counselor. “I want to work with kids who don’t believe they have the chances. I want to get in there and help them realize that they do have a chance to succeed,” Jones said.
Last spring, Jones got a taste of her dream through an internship at South Park Middle School in Oshkosh, with school counselor and UWO alumna Katie Kessen-Checki ’03, who majored in human services leadership.
During the internship, Jones worked with a student who was struggling with anxiety, depression and self-image issues— all things Jones said she struggled with at that age—and was refusing to participate in a lot of classes.
Jones and the student talked about the situation, and together they made a plan. Things improved really quickly for the student.
“The internship has really brought a lot of self-confidence. I can do this (as a profession) and it’s really making me happy,” Jones said.
After her midyear graduation in December 2013, Jones plans to earn a master’s in counseling.