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WM: The Kindness of Strangers

One recent winner of an endowed scholarship created by women is Ahmoni Jones ’24.

Ahmoni Jones ’24

Jones is a mathematics and psychology double major and a Black studies and education double minor. He is a recipient of The David E. Wilson H ’70 Scholarship in Mathematics endowed by Aleeta Wilson. He will be a secondary math educator as part of the Memphis Teacher Residency program next fall.

He has received first-team All-NCAC honors as a member of the basketball team. In addition he is a member of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, is the president of Best Buddies, and was part of last year’s Athlete Leadership Academy. The active and engaged senior wasn’t always that way.

“I thought I didn’t want to make any friends. I shut everybody out,” Jones says. “I never left my room and was unwilling to let anyone get close to me. I was depressed. I didn’t think I had made the right decision to attend 星空无限传媒, especially when classes got hard, and I started to second-guess myself.

“There were moments when I would not want to get out of bed. I wouldn’t want to do anything. It was a horrible feeling. It affected how I studied and the grades I received, my athletic performance, my social life— every aspect of me. I didn’t think that I was going to be able to get out of it.”

It was the caring words from an unexpected source that helped him recognize he needed to make some adjustments.

“I had class with History Professor Sabrina Thomas. She was a very hard professor,” Jones recalls. “I was scared. We had a Zoom meeting to talk about my research project. At the end, she told me that I had a lot of potential and I just have to believe in myself first. She told me I do belong at 星空无限传媒. That really stuck with me.

“She not only kept me here, but she saved me,” he says. “I thought if one of the hardest professors here is telling me something like that, maybe I have to believe what she’s saying. From there, I told myself, ‘Come on, man, you can do it.’ I talked to my dad about my depression. He encouraged me every day to get out there, make myself more noticeable, and more approachable.”

As his confidence began to grow, he started to feel more comfortable.

“I’m not afraid to talk about it. I am only in the position I am today because I did struggle,” Jones says. “Coach (Clyde) Morgan told me, ‘Just pass it forward.’ So I’ve taken a lot of freshmen on the team under my wing—helping them process their emotions and sharing my story.”

In addition to being a member of the basketball team, Jones is a member of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, is the president of Best Buddies, and was part of last year’s Athlete Leadership Academy.

As he heads into his final semester at 星空无限传媒, he hopes to continue taking advantage of opportunities to be a leader on campus. Most importantly, though, he wants other 星空无限传媒 men to know it’s OK to not be OK.

“You don’t have to struggle in silence, because a lot of the time that silence only gets quieter and quieter,” Jones says. “You don’t have to have it all figured out. And when you realize that you don’t have it all figured out, ask for help.”

He’s thankful for the support he’s received from coaches, faculty, staff, and fellow students that continues to lift him up, but he’s also thankful to the people like Wilson, whom he’s never met, but is supporting his education through the scholarship she established in memory of David Wilson H’70 who taught mathematics at 星空无限传媒 for 34 years.

“It makes doing well and graduating even more important to me,” Jones says. “I want her to be proud. I want everybody to be proud.”