During the recent 2014 Queensborough Community College Commencement, President Diane Call paid tribute to the graduating veterans who have served in the armed forces. Among them was Stephen Jones, a “Vietnam Era” Veteran, who graduated from Queensborough with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in New Media Technology. He has a G.P.A. of 3.3 and is on the Dean’s list. Mr. Jones also received further achievement as the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for exceptional leadership in promoting racial harmony and appreciation of cultural diversity.
From the podium, he exclaimed to his fellow graduates, “It was scary coming back to school at 60, but I made it–we made it!”
Stephen described growing up in South Jamaica, Queens where he left school at the end of eighth grade. By 17, he had enlisted in the United States Army and returned home at 19 as a “Vietnam Era” Veteran with no high school diploma and no job prospects. For years he worked in low-wage maintenance jobs at factories.
“I knew there had to be a better way to make a living” said Stephen, who eventually earned a Veterans General Education Diploma (GED). Determined to keep moving forward, he began exploring area community colleges to further his education. He noted that Queensborough offered what others did not: small class sizes and a multitude of support programs for nontraditional students. He enrolled full-time in the fall of 2012—43 years after earning his GED.
Stephen Jones received a rousing standing ovation as he received his diploma.