Belinda G. Jones, 31, is the first college graduate in her family. But her firsts dont stop there.
Jefferson Community College recently announced that Mrs. Jones, who already has an associate of science degree in human services and is finishing an associate of arts degree in liberal arts, is herself another first: the colleges first member of an All-USA Community College Academic Team.
I was shocked, Mrs. Jones said. Not only was it a huge accomplishment for me, but I know what an accomplishment it was for JCC to have their first student place on that team.
Only 20 students from a pool of 1,800 in the nation are chosen for the honor. The award which comes with a $2,500 scholarship and a medallion was bestowed during the American Association of Community Colleges conference last week in San Francisco. Mrs. Jones, along with the other All-USA honorees, was featured in a section of USA Today.
She was honored April 4 for the All-New York team.
JCC President Carole A. McCoy said the honor is exciting for both the bright student and the college.
Its very nice to see a nontraditional student being recognized, Mrs. McCoy said. Shes a wonderful representative of Jefferson Community College as well as an outstanding woman.
Mrs. Jones said she applied for the award in the fall by filling out questionnaires and writing essays. The school chose her as one of two student representatives to be judged for the state and national awards.
In school, Mrs. Jones is a member of Phi Theta Kappa a community college honor society and serves as student government president. Last year, she was vice president of the Human Services Club, but had to give it up as part of student government requirements.
According to a press release, Mrs. Jones was named outstanding human services student in 2012 by the colleges Liberal Arts Division. She also is a Faculty Student Association board of directors student representative.
With a grade-point average of 4.0, she has earned a spot on the Presidents List every semester since she started studying at JCC in 2010.
Originally from North Carolina, Mrs. Jones moved to the area with her husband, Casey W., when he was stationed at Fort Drum.
She wanted to go to a four-year college after graduating with her degree in human services last year, but did not want to have to transfer credits if her husband were going to be stationed elsewhere in the near future.
It took me 10 years to come back (to school), and I was scared it would take me 10 more years if I took off any more time, Mrs. Jones said.
She has two children, T. Adam, 14, and Abby E., 7, and lives on Fort Drum.
She plans to transfer to East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C., to pursue a bachelors degree in social work.