Yolanda Jones grew up in Greenwood, Mississippi. After completing high school she enrolled at Grambling State University in Louisiana. She dropped out of college and worked at a number of odd jobs for several years.
In 1999, she enrolled in the Academic Second Chance program at Jackson State University in Mississippi. While enrolled at Jackson State she worked as a janitor in the AllState Insurance Building, which now is the university’s E-Center.
Jones completed her bachelor’s degree in disability studies and hearing impaired education. Two years later, she earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Jackson State.
Jones then was hired as a counselor at Mississippi Valley State University. She was promoted to director of the Comprehensive Counseling Center at the university in 2007, a position she still holds.
While working at Mississippi Valley State, Jones earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from the university. She then entered the doctoral program in urban higher education at Jackson State University. There, she often visited the E-Center where she had worked as a janitor.
“Sometimes when I would arrive at the E-Center,” Jones said, “I would just sit in my car and reflect on a lot of things, but more than anything, I am grateful for having a crystal clear understanding of innovation and perseverance in this very competitive world.”
Dr. Jones recently was awarded her doctoral degree, completing her long journey from janitor to the pinnacle of higher education.