When one thinks of the community of South Los Angeles, an urban neighborhood centering around crime, violence, and poverty probably comes to mind. Still for California State University, Dominguez Hills graduate, Kendrick Jones, it is his home and his heart. Raised in the city’s most notorious community, Mr. Jones is an example that it is not where you come from, but where you are going.
Brought up in a single parent household, Jones was sent to small urban charter schools reflective of his community, but which still held true to their purpose of providing a world class education to all of its students. After graduating from View Park Preparatory School in 2014 in the top ten percent of his class, Jones went off to attend California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he majored in African Studies. It was during his tenure at Dominguez that Jones became well known by university officials thanks to his involvement in multiple on campus clubs and organizations.
His leadership experience afforded him the opportunity to successfully run for, and be appointed to, a seat on the Board of Directors for the university’s student government organization. He, and two other students, reconstituted the only recognized African American fraternity at the university—Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.—where he served as Chapter Vice President and helped lead the fraternity to many on-campus awards and accolades, including highest grade point average out of all Greek organizations on the campus. A feat sustained for two years in a row. During his undergraduate career, Jones worked for CSUDH’s Male Success Alliance, an outreach and retention-based program implemented to improve graduation rates for young men of color. Jones also worked as an Academic Mentor, serving the needs of students in three local schools in communities similar to his growing up. Understanding the needs of his students and the needs of his community, Jones leapt at the opportunity for advocacy and even had the chance to speak with state legislators at the California State Capitol to address these concerns.
After being appointed to student body Vice President in 2017, Jones graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with his Bachelor of Arts degree, just three years after finishing high school. He immediately enrolled in the university’s Graduate School of Education where he began his studies to obtain his Master of Arts degree in Education, with a focus on Curriculum Development. His leadership and on campus involvement lead him to also enroll in the inaugural cohort of the Higher Education Administration and Leadership Certificate at CSUDH. In December of 2018, he will graduate as the first African-American male in the program.
This May, Jones will, once again, walk the stage of CSUDH. This time with his Masters. Although his coursework for his certifications will not be completed until fall 2018, Jones is already making plans for his future endeavors. Currently, Mr. Jones works as an Enrollment Specialist for Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science—a Historically Black Graduate Institution in the city of Los Angeles—where he carries his family’s legacy of serving the needs of South Los Angeles by enrolling students into some of the top programs offered by the university. Both Jones’ mother (Kenji Jones, MFT and Doctoral Candidate at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology) and grandfather worked at the institution for many years, with his grandfather, Michael Jones, having served for 31 years before his untimely passing in August of 2017.
Despite the many obstacles, Jones is confident that he will continue to further his education in hopes of one day running a community development center that caters to the needs and wants of students. “I want to inspire those who have been led to believe that their circumstances make up their outcomes. In my opinion, excellence is shown by those who allow for it to exist. I strongly believe that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it. All they need is that person in their corner letting them know that it is possible. I want to be that person.” Kendrick Jones is just 21 years old and is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. Congrats, young brother, good luck, and thanks for being a great example of Black Excellence.