Stories of Excellence–Mandy Shakir Jones
Mandy Shakir Jones believes in helping hands and second chances. Through her life, she has had many people support her on her journey, and she has seen how support can make an impact on others’ lives. As a Mitchell graduate who is continuing her education with an aim to counsel others, Jones knows the value of education and the power of hope.
Jones grew up travelling around the United States with her family and moved to North Carolina in her teens. She attended Mitchell first in 1996. As a single mother of two, family responsibilities influenced her decision to put school on hold. In 2017, she felt the time was right to finish her degree, and immediately Jones knew she had made the correct decision. “First week of classes, I knew that I was on the right path,” she shared. “This is a personal journey for me after losing my brother in 2017 to a drug overdose. I knew I had a responsibility to him and to myself to educate and help others struggling with this disease.” Jones chose to pursue a degree in human services in her brother’s memory, knowing the field gave her many career choices. “I want to help people help themselves,” she said, “I want them to know their worth and give them hope.”
As Jones was refining her skills, her instructors were guiding and mentoring her, ensuring that Jones excelled. “My instructors believed in me and that’s what I needed,” Jones noted. “Ms. Dellinger and Ms. Burt truly inspired me to continue my educational path. Ms. Dellinger has mentored me since finishing the program. She is an invaluable source of information. If she doesn’t have the answer, she will find it out.” Jones’s internships–a required portion of the human services program–also gave her real-life, hands-on insight into her future career. “Even though I had learned about these topics in class, once I was there participating in the internship, I got a new look at it, and I learned so much about what a career in human services entails.”
Jones graduated from Mitchell with an Associate in Applied Science degree in human services technology in 2018. She also earned her human services certificate and substance abuse certificate. Like many students, graduation was a poignant experience for Jones. She walked in order to show her children the value of education and the magnitude of what you can accomplish if you work hard and don’t let obstacles prevent you from your goals.
Jones is currently attending Lees-McRae College and is on track to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in 2020. She is also working to obtain her substance abuse counselor certification. Jones noted her degree at Mitchell prepared her exceptionally well for her program at Lees-McRae. Compared to others in her program, she feels her knowledge and experience base is more advanced.
In the future, Jones plans to obtain her master’s degree in counseling and work as a substance abuse disorder counselor. Whether she stays in Iredell County or travels the country as she did in her youth, Jones knows her work will make an impact. “There are so many people who need that helping hand, who need a second chance,” she shared.
Jones’s legacy of education extends in her own family as well. Her son, a high school senior, has already taken a few classes at Mitchell to prepare himself for entering college next year. Jones’s advice to her son and to all Mitchell students is “immerse yourself–make friends, connect with your teachers, and take advantage of this opportunity.”
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