SLU Supporter: Michael Jones II, Ph.D.
Michael Jones II, Ph.D. (A&S ’10, Grad Ed ’12 & ’16) likes to say that he didn’t choose SLU, SLU chose him.
Admitted through the Billiken Bridge program, Jones initially didn’t have the grades usually required to attend SLU, and spent the beginning of his college career on a probationary period. More than 10 years and three SLU degrees later, Jones is now the one helping students through their college journey – in his role in the Race and Opportunity Lab at Washington University St. Louis, as president of SLU’s Black Alumni Association and as a True to SLU donor to Accelerating Excellence.
“SLU provided me with mentors, particularly African-American mentors, who guided me and made sure I was on point,” Jones said. “And so it’s been key for me to make sure I’m giving back the same intensity to current undergrads and letting them know that they have support from the graduate population.”
Jones notes that his SLU journey was unique in that he was both a traditional student and a student-athlete, which he describes as vastly different experiences. Initially cut from the basketball team freshman year, Jones played a founding role in SLU’s Multicultural Greek Council and participated in organizations such as the Black Student Alliance. Then, when he later became a walk-on player, he was also given access to a whole other set of student-athlete opportunities.
Because of these varied experiences, the aspiring physical therapy student eventually pursued a career in higher ed instead and today supports SLU students through contributions to funds such as the Dr. Celerstine Johnson Book Fund and the Pioneers of Inclusion Scholarship.
“The more we’re able to give financially to the student experience, it can enhance them outside the classroom,” Jones said. “I also want SLU to continue to attract the best local students who want a quality education. And then once they get that education, contribute to society as a whole within the region that they were reared in.”