Welcoming Heart

Jovonna Jones

Jovonna “Jojo” Jones 15C is no stranger to feeling left out, different, and lonely. The leader and founder of an impressive list of Emory organizations and programs, Jones says she struggled with feelings that she didn’t belong on and off since childhood.

“I sometimes felt, growing up, that I didn’t belong or that people weren’t welcoming me. It’s always been my mission to make sure others don’t feel that way,” Jones says. “Part of that is getting people comfortable with dissonance, to orient themselves around embracing difference and not letting it always be a negative experience.“

During her time at Emory, Jones devoted herself to helping others feel heard, motivated, and accepted through her work with organizations such as the Center for Women and Black Student Union. This dedication to inclusion has helped make Jones the 2015 recipient of the Lucius Lamar McMullan Award, which recognizes Emory College graduates who show extraordinary promise for future leadership and rare potential for service to their community, the nation, and the world. 

Originally from Randolph, Massachusetts, Jones worked with a program called Transitions during high school to help first-year minority students feel welcome and comfortable. She also joined VISIONS, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that trains in diversity, inclusion, and effective communication. She now serves on the board of directors and as a youth consultant.

Jones continued her personal mission at Emory as president of the Black Student Alliance. In 2013, she helped found the Black Student Union, a space dedicated for black student programming, organizing, and community.

As a staff intern at the Center for Women, Jones spearheaded two programs to engage undergraduate women: I Am Woman, a wide-ranging discussion group; and Elect Her, a program to address the low numbers of women serving in elected positions in the Student Government Association.

Jones combined her extensive community service with exceptional academic achievement, majoring in African American studies with a minor in philosophy. She will pursue a master’s degree in fine arts in photography at Georgia State University this fall.

“I’m interested in using that time to prepare myself for a different framework for how I think about policy and issues,” she says. “Ultimately I want to take that knowledge and use it for nonprofit or policy work.” —Megan McRainey

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