JCJC Dean of Student Affairs to train Mississippi’s Leaders

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-12-19 12:16:33


ELLISVILLE – For the last six years, Dr. Samuel Jones has been the Dean of Student Affairs at Jones County Junior College helping students overcome various educational obstacles, assisting with student leadership programs, campus security and recruiting. Beginning in January 2013, the Rosedale native will take on the new role as trainer and facilitator for The Leadership Mississippi Program that is sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council, while continuing to serve in his role at JCJC.
“I’m excited and thrilled to have this opportunity to have a role in training the next generation of leaders for the state of Mississippi. It’s a great honor for me to be the first facilitator/trainer to follow Dr. Wells and I can honestly say he will be missed. His finger prints are all over different components of the program so his service will not be forgotten,” said Jones. “The Leadership Mississippi program became very dear to my heart as a participant and 2010 graduate of the program. It has allowed me to gain a better perspective of some of the challenges and opportunities we face as a state as related to government/politics, education, economic development, and health care issues.  Also, the friendships and networking opportunities involved with the Leadership Mississippi experience was invaluable and I know that my professional and personal perspective has benefitted from participating.”

Leadership Mississippi is an annual program of the Mississippi Economic Council, conducted by the M.B. Swayze Educational Foundation. Participants are selected by a committee of MEC members and work together in a training course combining individual study, group sessions and project experiences using leadership skills. Participants of the program include corporate level leaders, executives, emerging leaders, community leaders and new-to-Mississippi leaders who are interested in learning more about Mississippi and the issues that impact the state.  Jones is replacing the retiring Dr. Thomas Wells who served the program for 30 years. Jones said he will build upon the solid leadership principles Wells and others have laid for the program.
“My vision for the program is to continue building on the foundation Dr. Wells has established and what I learned in the program. My goal is to incorporate my personal experiences as a guide for participants to learn from. Some of those experiences and principles are based upon servant leadership, critical thinking, pursuing a vision, and building upon a legacy that will stand the test of time. I want to encourage, inspire, and challenge the next group of leaders to seek out challenges and opportunities to make Mississippi a better place to live,” Jones revealed.
After Leadership graduation, Jones has been volunteering for the program by assisting with the local coordination of leadership sessions for new class members. He has also spent the last two years touring the Southeast as a guest speaker and trainer for groups like the Phi Theta Kappa Regional Leadership conference, the Southern Regional Minority Leadership, the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, and he has facilitated training for several K-12 school districts, colleges and universities. Most of his leadership presentations and training topics have included principles from his book, “The Man I Never Knew: How Leadership Can Be Developed by Faith, Family, and Friends.” Jones’ personal story of overcoming obstacles and adversity shows the importance of how simple decisions in life can put you on a path to success or failure. In his book, Jones reveals the most influential person in his young life was his grandmother Melissa Shelton. He explained how she left a spiritual foundation that has led him through every challenge he’s encountered. He’s learned how challenges are only there to bring out the best in us. 
“One of the most important messages I try to convey to audiences is that we all have special gifts and we are here for a special purpose. I believe it’s always important to be open to new experiences because it’s always an opportunity to grow. And as we’re continuing to grow as people, we’ll be able to continue to help others grow to become stronger leaders,” he said.
Jones has been instrumental in the development of leadership training on the JCJC campus and throughout Laurel and Jones County. At a recent presentation for JCJC students Jones shared, “I want students to know where I came from and how my decisions impacted my life and how I didn’t have it easy, like they may assume based on where I am now in life. I don’t want to impress them but I want to press upon them that greatness and success is a choice.”
The University of Southern Mississippi graduate earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Community College Leadership at Mississippi State University in 2006. As a former USM basketball standout and European Basketball League player, Jones admits he was disappointed in not making it to the NBA, but acknowledges God had a greater plan for him, including his new role with the Mississippi Leadership Program.
“Not making it to the NBA was probably one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. I’ve learned you can’t run from who you are and life has things in store that you haven’t planned for. Adversity plus creativity can make us better people if we choose,” said Jones. “I hope to instill that in future leaders, along with encouraging our next generation of leaders to take pride in Mississippi. We have to be the change that we want to see in our state.”
The 38 year-old said he leans on his wife, Sarah, for inspiration and is excited to have her on his side. The Joneses attend Peace and Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church where he serves as the Superintendent for the Sunday school and is the associate minister. To learn about the Leadership Mississippi Program which is endowed through a generous contribution by the founding chairman of the MEC in 1973, the late J.C. and Annie Redd. J.C. Redd, click on the link: http://www.msmec.com/index.php/about-leadership-ms.


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