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Alcorn University freshman recipient of full-ride Gates Scholarship



Alvin Jones Jr. with several awards and honor cords from high school. (Photo courtesy Alcorn State University)

Heidelberg, Mississippi, native Alvin Jones Jr.’s work ethic has been the catalyst for his early success.

“The hard work that’s gotten me to this point started when I was younger,” said Jones, a freshman at Alcorn State University. “There were many long nights of studying and long days of preparation. There were so many sacrifices that I made to benefit my future. I had to understand at a young age that anything worth having is worth working for. I still believe in this principle today.”

His hard work has paid off. Jones, an agribusiness management major, is a 2020 Gates Scholarship recipient. The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective scholarship for outstanding minority high school seniors from low-income households. The scholarship is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and is awarded to 300 student leaders per year.

Earning the scholarship allows Jones to be a positive example for his community. He hopes to inspire others to reach their full potential.

“Receiving this scholarship is one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my life thus far,” he said. “I am from a small town where motivation can be hard to find. I feel that receiving this scholarship will give my community hope and set an example for those that will come after me. I believe that a person’s true character is not displayed by what they do for themselves, but by what they do to help others. I thank God for this blessing.”

Jones appreciates the life lessons and morals his parents instilled in him.

“My parents, Alvin Jones Sr. and Harlena Jones, pushed me and motivated me. When I felt like giving up, they would tell me to trust God now and thank him later,” he said. “Through all things, I kept God first. I prayed before every interview. After I finished reviewing my notes, I always asked God to allow me to be the best.”

Helping others succeed is a life goal for Jones. Achieving the Gates Scholarship has inspired him to one day provide aid to students searching for opportunities.

“I am motivated to work even harder than ever to make my family and myself proud. I am motivated to use what I’ve learned to help others,” he said. “One day, I hope to create a scholarship foundation that gives students a chance to become the absolute best in their fields. I want to provide equal opportunities not only for African American students but also for all minorities. I believe that many go unnoticed not because they lack skill, but because they lack opportunity. I want to give people the same opportunity that the Gates Scholarship has given me.”

Now that his full ride through school is solidified, Jones can focus on having the best freshman year possible.

“I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life where I can create a bright future for myself. I want college to be a world of experiences and opportunities for me. I look forward to meeting new friends and being a part of the Alcorn family,” he said. “I also look forward to fulfilling my dream of marching with the Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching band.”

Alcorn prepared Jones’ mentors for success beyond graduation, which is one of several reasons he chose to further his education at the university.

“I chose Alcorn because of the family atmosphere. When I visited Alcorn, it felt like home. Everyone was welcoming, and they cared about my interest,” he said. “My father and my high school band director (Elbert Benton III) graduated from the university and marched in the band. I see that Alcorn instilled character and leadership skills into these two men. I desire the same qualities, so I believe Alcorn is the best fit for me.”

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