“Definitely unreal” and “kind of like winning the sweepstakes”—that’s how a Freed-Hardeman University sophomore described his winning a scholarship totaling $125,000 over five years and a trip to New York City to appear on the NBC Education Nation Summit.
Tommy Jones, Orange, Texas, has received a Buick Achievers Scholarship supported by the GM Foundation. Each year, Buick and the foundation award 1,100 undergraduate scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $25,000 to assist outstanding students interested in studying science, engineering, technology, design, marketing and other related fields. Awards are based on participation and leadership in community and school activities, interest in the automotive industry, academic achievement and financial need.
The GM Foundation hosted five of the 2012 national recipients, including Jones, at Education Nation Sept. 22-23, where they participated in the first nationally televised Student Town Hall moderated by Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC. The other students came from Harvard University, University of California—Berkeley, University of Florida—Gainesville, and Pomona College/Caltech. The students joined in conversations about today’s educational system.
“I learned a lot and I had a great time while I was there,” Jones said. “I saw many areas where education has problems, and I saw the people who can change that.”
Jones said he also enjoyed the movie premier of “Won’t Back Down” at Ziegfeld Theatre, a part of the weekend’s activitites. Now showing in theatres, the movie features two mothers, one a teacher, who try to transform their children’s failing school. It stars Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter.
Jones is a physical science, pre-engineering major at FHU. He is interested in a career in mechanical or electrical engineering. Since he was a kid, he said, he has enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. When he visited his cousin, a mechanical engineer who builds surgical tools, his career goals solidified. Jones said his dream is to one day develop a battery for electric vehicles that would increase their range while decreasing recharge times.
As an FHU student, Jones has participated in an evangelistic campaign in New Zealand and worked as a member of the General Electric Challenge Team. He and four other students went to the GE factory in Selmer last year to help increase efficiency in the shipping yard. His major service project in his community has been a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) toy drive. He, his brother John and his mother Kathy began the drive ten years ago. Jones doesn’t know exactly how many toys they have collected, but they filled his parents’ garage twice last year, he said.
Jones received notification of the award via email while in physics class. “Shock and awe” best describe his reaction to the news, he said. After checking his email account to make sure it was real, he called his parents to tell them the news. “My dad (Barry) drove up here from Texas to make sure I had all the paperwork done correctly. This was a big deal,” he said in something of an understatement. “He didn’t want me to mess it up.”
Jones intends to stay at Freed-Hardeman for a third year before transferring to an engineering school to complete his degree. As a participant in FHU’s dual degree program, he will receive a bachelor’s degree in physical science from FHU and a degree in engineering from the school to which he transfers.
As the son of a minister and a third grade teacher, Jones said he learned at an early age to work hard for what he wanted. Just how well his work and initiative have paid off still seems somewhat unbelievable to him. “All of this still seems unreal,” Jones said. “It seems like someone more important should be doing this.”
Proud of you son! You can go any where with a FHU education. BRAVO to all your teachers who believed in you!
That's my brother! Woot woot
That's my boy! That Harvard kid has nothing on you!
You are the best!!! Thanks Buick Achievers!!!
You are my HERO! I love you Big Bro!
Very impressive Tommy! I knew you would accomplish great things.. Congrats!