For the second consecutive year, a University of North Georgia (UNG) student has been selected to receive a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, one of only 90 in the nation to be awarded this year among more than 2,000 applications.
Teri Jones, a non-traditional sophomore majoring in visual arts on UNG's Oconee Campus, will transfer to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago later this year to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio. The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship will support her with up to $40,000 each year for up to three years as she completes her degree.
"I originally came back to school out of a desire to just take art classes and improve my skills, but now I want to use art as a vehicle to influence public policy in public education, such as using art in the classroom to help visual learners better identify with the material," she said.
Jones credited the many mentors she has had at UNG for her success, especially faculty from the Department of Visual Arts.
"Teri uniquely combines her work in academia with her artistic pursuits and her professional goals to create solutions for issues in education. If an established concept or route does not exist, she is going to create one – she's a trailblazer," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant dean of student research and scholarship. "Her motivation is second to none, and the number of mentors and others around her who have dedicated their time to helping her succeed is indicative of her passion as well as their belief that she will make a difference."
After years in the workforce, Jones, who is 49, said it became apparent in 2010 that she had advanced to professional levels where lack of a college degree was holding her back. Jones is the first in her family to attend college.
"I was not making enough money to make ends meet, and I experienced the traumatic death of my father," she said. "I put my foot down and said 'That's enough. I've always wanted to go back to school, and I'm doing it now.' Nine months later I began attending then-Gainesville State College at the age of 45."
Jones found out she had won a scholarship during a surprise reveal on UNG's Oconee Campus. Pete Marshall, who won the same scholarship in 2014 as a UNG sophomore, was there to congratulate her and share his experiences as a Jack Kent Cooke scholar. He also described other opportunities the foundation offers, such as a $5,000 stipend for scholars who take summer internships at nonprofits.
Jones said she has been very driven to experience all she could while attending school. Eventually, she wants to earn a master's degree in art education and begin teaching. Her selection also grants travel to the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars weekend and access to the foundation's support network.