Creating New Opportunities Through Higher Education
Student Spotlight: Grace Jones
Finding the right professional path sometimes means trying new fields and branching out in new directions. By combining your passions, you may be able to increase your personal marketability while creating your own ideal career. This is exactly what Grace Jones has been able to do through her pursuit of higher education.
Now working on her doctorate in education with an emphasis in leadership with CityU, Grace began her educational journey with an associate degree to become a Substance Use Disorder Professional. She continued her education with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies. This degree allowed her to study on a reservation-based community where she had the freedom to create her own capstone project and stay close to her personal tribal roots with the Suquamish tribe.
With her unique perspective, Grace was able to pursue a career working in behavioral health. She worked in the tribal therapeutic courts, primarily on the client side as opposed to the legal side. This allowed her to work with the participants and their families. She was able to understand what they were seeing and how they were experiencing the court system, and, with that knowledge, she was able to assist them as they navigated the court system.
As she continued to work in behavioral health with clients, Grace was eventually given more administrative responsibilities. Rising through the ranks and taking on more of a leadership role inspired Grace to return to school again. She wanted to be more involved with the administrative side that helped to develop the policy and procedures so that she would be better positioned to assist individuals as they navigated the complex court systems. This brought Grace to CityU. At CityU, she received her Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership.
“I planned on going into a Tribal Master of Public Administration, specifically working from a tribal perspective but then, I was just looking online, and I ran across the nonprofit leadership. And I looked at the courses involved in that track at CityU and I really liked it,” said Grace. “Although I’m a tribal person and the bulk of my career is working in tribal communities, I found that I wanted to be more marketable, or have a broader perspective.” An internal promotion had placed Grace in a more supervisory position, and she found that she really enjoyed the administrative focus; the MA in Nonprofit Leadership aligned with this direction that she wanted to take her career, but still gave her the freedom to continue her tribal work.
Grace finished her MA in 2017 and immediately moved into her doctoral program. She now does a bit of everything in her work, including teaching, curriculum development, contractual work with the navy and the naval hospital, and as a trainer and consultant. “I am a completely independent contractor at this point,” Grace said, referring to the amalgam of jobs she holds. “It was scary to do that, but my education armed me to be able to have the confidence to do that and the skillset to do that.”
“Education is my passion, equitable access to education,” Grace said. Grace hopes that her degree will enable her to work towards more curriculum development and towards implementing the administrative changes necessary to ensure that there is equitable access to education. “I absolutely love the idea that there are these little branch campuses of colleges that are so easily accessible by native folks that are living in rural Washington.”
Grace is still looking towards the future to find new opportunities for her personal growth and to help her community grow. “If I want to implement change and be a part of educational administration, then I need to have a doctorate. So, education in one way or another, whether it’s through curriculum development, program development, administration, that’s my goal.”