I am currently Media Director for Democracy onAir. I am a senior at George Mason University majoring in Global Affairs. I was an intern with Democracy onAir and Virginia onAir Media Coordinator in the spring of 2o19 as part of being a Global Politics Fellow at the Schar School of Policy and Government.
I have been, at different times, the producer, director, talent, and videographer for the About Virginia onAir video. I am a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, scholarship/fundraising Chair for the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and secretary/treasurer for Patriots for Peace. I am also a thespian who has performed in a number of plays and does standup comedy.
- BA Global Affairs
George Mason University,
2016 to present
Anticipated graduation Spring 2020.
Global Politics Fellow, Spring 2019
George Mason Global Education– The Netherlands/Brussels
- Media Director
2019 to present
- Mission Trips
2019 to present
Belize, Central America, West Virginia, North Carolina, & South Dakota
National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Scholarship/Fundraising Chair/Treasurer: Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity
Secretary/Treasurer: Patriots for Peace
Freshman Liaison: Black Student Alliance
- Minor Preston Scholarship
- Chap Petersen
- Matthew Fariss
- Tony Wilt
- Richard Stuart
- Rob Bell
- Chris Runion
- Mark Obenshain
- John McGuire
- John Avoli
- Creigh Deeds
- Robert Orrock
- Mike Webert
- Emmett Hanger
- Todd Gilbert
- Justin Fairfax
- Bryce Reeves
- David Bulova
- Ryan McDougle
- Nick Freitas
- Dutch Hillenburg
- Mark Cole
- Joshua Cole
Mentorship key in helping Monticello student achieve his dreams
By: By Michael Bragg
The Daily Progress – May 31, 2016
Ny-jhee Jones will graduate from Monticello High School on Wednesday, and then he’ll try to accomplish something no one else in his family has done yet: earn a bachelor’s degree.
Jones will start his collegiate career at George Mason University in the fall, hoping to major in either global affairs, international business or a similar field.
Jones has been actively involved in his school’s drama department, he’s maintained good grades and he’s been involved in the local chapter of 100 Black Men of America for most of his life.
Jones is where he is today because of his hard work and dedication, but he said he owes a great deal of the credit to the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia and its mentor program.
“I think they’ve been absolutely critical in shaping me as a man, as who I am, so to speak,” he said. “Without the 100, and pushing me as far as they did, I don’t know if I’d be where I am today. I don’t know if I would have gotten into Mason.”
Jones was part of the organization’s first class for M Cubed — Math-Men-Mission — which aims to increase enrollment of African-American males in upper-level coursework during middle school.
It was there as a fifth-grader rising into sixth where Jones met his mentor, Juandiego Wade, who became an important part of Jones’ life on both developmental and personal levels.
Monique Banks, Jones’ mother, said Wade’s presence in her son’s life has been critical and that she could not have asked for a better mentor for her son than if she had picked one herself.
“He’s been very active in Ny-jhee’s life as far as 100 Black Men … got him involved in a great community church,” she said. “I feel like he does more than what is required through 100.”
The mentor program changes when students reach high school, becoming more of a group-mentoring setting rather than the one-on-one environment with M Cubed. But Wade and Jones’ interaction continued.
It’s even helped him with his post-secondary education. Jones started attending Wade’s church and later was connected with a family that was willing to help Jones out financially for school when it became apparent his lack of funding might affect his dream of attending college.
“Juan started out as my mentor and we’ve been really close ever since then,” Jones said. “He really is just like a second father to me. He looks after me, makes sure I have everything that I need and he was even able to find people that provided me with a substantial amount of money for college.”
* * *
Wade has been a mentor to several people over the last 30 years. He’s seen many of them through their formative years in school and move on to forge their own paths in life.
But of all the mentees he’s worked with, Wade said Jones is one of the most memorable.
“Mentoring someone like Ny-jhee has been really special because not only did I get to know his family, but he got to know my family,” said Wade, who is a member of Charlottesville’s School Board. “He’s like a big brother to my eighth-grade daughter and he’s been over to our house numerous times. We’ve broken meal together in my house plenty of times and he feels comfortable there.”
Bernard Hairston, president of the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia and executive director of community engagement for Albemarle County schools, said it’s difficult to say where some of the boys will end up when they first join the M Cubed program.
But as he looks at Jones now, “the sky’s the limit for him.” Hairston also mentioned Wade’s mentorship as one of the reasons Jones has gotten to where he is now.
“I mean, he’s got charisma, he’s one of those sponges who is looking to suck up as much information as he can,” Hairston said of Jones.
“… [T]his kid could end up being an ambassador somewhere, he’s got that potential,” he said.
* * *
For much of his younger years, Wade and Banks saw Jones as a quiet, to-himself and observant kind of kid. They said he was even a little shy sometimes.
So it was to their surprise that he decided to get involved in Monticello High’s drama department.
Jones said there were a couple of reasons who decided to get involved in drama:
One, he gave up on a dream of becoming a star athlete when he didn’t seem to get taller as he grew older.
“As I got older and realized how rare it is for students to make it to the next level unless you’re, like, smart, extremely talented and have a decent size on you, then it’s impossible for you to make it professionally,” he said. “So once I realized I wouldn’t get past 5-foot-5, I found a new passion, which was theater.”
The other reason, which he will not hesitate to tell anyone, is that he wanted to meet girls. But his interest in theater grew beyond that.
“It was one of the best decisions I made in my high school career because, not even about just the girls, it’s just a great group of people in drama,” he said. “They’ll look past anything, all your flaws; they don’t care about that stuff. They just care about what kind of person you are in general.”
But drama wasn’t just something Jones did to fill time. He excelled at it.
He received an invitation to the Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts at Radford University and attended last summer.
But Jones later decided theater wasn’t the career path he wanted to take.
Even though he doesn’t plan to pursue the performing arts as a major, he doesn’t want that part of his life to just fall by the wayside.
“I’ll do standup comedy,” he said. “I’m going to see how that goes.”
* * *
Diversity has been a big aspect in Jones’ life, whether it’s part of the productions he’s been a part of at Monticello High — “In the Heights,” “Memphis” and “21 Chump Street,” to name a few — or how he views it as an important part of a community.
And that’s why he wants to major in either global affairs or international business when he goes to GMU, to continue that interest in some shape or form. He’s even already thinking about getting a master’s degree.
And it wasn’t his grades that could have kept him from attending the school of his choice. It was a matter of money.
According to George Mason’s website, the total cost for an undergraduate, in-state student for one year— tuition, various fees and room and board — comes out to a little more than $28,000.
Jones started working with his mentor to see what his options were. Even with financial aid, he was looking at $10,000 to $12,000 a year to make up.
“So, to some people, that’s not bad,” Wade said. “If you multiply that times four years, that’s not bad as far as what you have to get, but for some people, that might as well be $2 million to get that. That was going to be a substantial obstacle.”
He has some scholarship money, which helps, but he was still several thousands of dollars short. The other option would be applying for student loans, which would put him in debt for years after college.
But then a family at Wade’s church came into the picture. They are giving Jones $40,000 — $10,000 per year — to help him offset the cost of college.
Jones and Wade said the family, who has requested not to be named, only asked that Jones in return pays it forward one day by helping someone however he can as they helped him.
Had it not been for Jones joining Wade’s church, just one of the results of their mentor-mentee relationship, Jones would never have received this kind of help to get him to college.
“I wouldn’t have been able to pay for it, the college, without the family that’s helping me,” Jones said. “I definitely say it’s been amazing. It’s definitely been super critical to the whole thing.”
* * *
For this summer, Jones said he plans to work at his part-time job, hang out with friends and just enjoy some downtime before college starts.
He and Wade plan to continue their friendship even when he’s away. After all, as Hairston said, their motto is “mentoring across a lifetime.”
“I plan to continue to be a mentor to him, to be a resource to him for him to contact if he has any questions or needs advice,” Wade said.
“I’ll still keep up with him, I’ll call him, email him, do whatever,” Jones said. “I think we’ll still keep that same relationship, it’ll be just as strong. And we go to the same church, so when I come back and go to church, I’m sure I’ll see him there.”
The experiences he’s had with 100 Black Men of Central Virginia and Wade have helped shape his life, so much so that Jones said he could see himself mentoring one day.
“Juan was quite a significant figure to my life, and I know how much mentors can be significant figures in young people’s lives,” he said.
The lead curator for this post is Ny-jhee Jones.
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