Helping People with Disabilities on a National LevelAlumni & Donor Profile
By Carla Beecher
The point at which her late mother’s illness, a random encounter with a Chicago Streetwise vendor and her education at Roosevelt University met is where Carolyn Jones (BSBA ’00, MBA ’02) found her calling in life. She continues to support Roosevelt as an Annual Fund for Student Success donor.
Along the way, Jones has never forgotten her family roots or her Roosevelt education. “In graduate school, we were given a number of projects where we had to be project lead,” Jones said. “I had a fear of public speaking then, but Roosevelt taught me to believe in myself and how to work with others — to really listen and perfect my communication skills.”
“I had a fear of public speaking then, but Roosevelt taught me to believe in myself and how to work with others — to really listen and perfect my communication skills.”
— Carolyn Jones
(BSBA ’00, MBA ’02)
Carolyn Jones (BSBA ’00, MBA ’02)
Raised by a single mother with bipolar disorder, Jones learned early on to advocate strongly on her mother’s behalf. “When she was working and taking her medications, she was fine. But when she was manic and in crisis, people avoided her, and some wouldn’t even look at her,” she recalled.
That firsthand knowledge was the catalyst that led Jones to fight for disenfranchised and disabled people on a national level. “It’s all about self-sufficiency and sustainability in this world,” she said. “I knew I needed to help my mom and people like her.”
Just two years out of school, Jones was approached abruptly by a man on the street selling Streetwise. “So I gave him $10 and an hour lesson on how to engage people,” she said. That led to volunteering one-on-one with the vendors, coaching them on how best to approach and engage customers.
“I wanted to help them get a job that would pay a sustainable wage so they could feel good about themselves,” said Jones. “That was a pivotal moment for me.”
Today Jones serves as senior policy advisor for the Youth Team at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in Washington, D.C. Currently, Jones is working on a $1.9-million Apprenticeship Inclusion Models initiative to expand apprenticeship pathways for youth and adults with disabilities into emerging high-growth industries and occupations such as health care, information technology and advanced technology.
Jones credits much of her success to her alma mater.
“I support Roosevelt. Had it not been for my education, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she said. “There are other students like me today who need assistance. We all need to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders who might not have the financial wherewithal to move forward. I hope that others will do what they can to make a student’s life easier. If not us, then who?”
“I support Roosevelt. Had it not been for my education, I wouldn’t be where I am now. There are other students like me today who need assistance.”
(BSBA ’00, MBA ’02)
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