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Education grad strengthens family’s legacy at ASU

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

For Ahlias Jones, his Sun Devil family legacy runs deep. His mother, father, sister and two brothers all have degrees from Arizona State University.

Father and son talk about connections to ASU

Ahlias Jones and his father, Alonzo Jones, talk about community as part of the YouTube series.

Jones will be joining the alumni ranks in his family when he graduates this May from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with a degree in secondary education (history) and a minor in communication.

While at ASU, Jones took full advantage of opportunities outside the classroom to expand his academic experience. Jones served as chief of staff for Undergraduate Student Government, president of the Black African Coalition at ASU, vice president of Black Educators and Mentors Club at ASU, Western Regional assistant vice president and chapter president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and president and internal vice president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

His involvement reaches beyond ASU. He has worked as a tutor with The Literacy Lab, a national nonprofit with a local presence in Arizona working to improve the literacy skills of children in preschool, and he’s student-teaching at a school in Tempe, Fees College Preparatory Middle School.

He also participated in study abroad programs. In December 2022 through January 2023, Jones traveled to Israel and Palestine along with several other ASU student leaders aimed at expanding their global perspectives. In August 2023, he ventured to the United Kingdom with Assistant Professor of higher and postsecondary education Meseret Hailu, where he studied higher education and how it relates to race and immigration in the UK. Also, he went to Winneba, Ghana, a small beach town, where he studied human trafficking.

Another opportunity to be involved came to Jones when he was asked to participate in the ASU Alumni Association’s 2024 Founders’ Day awards dinner, which honors university alumni, faculty and philanthropists whose pioneering achievements and visionary leadership shaped ASU’s spirit of excellence and innovation. The audience of more than 850 people included ASU President Michael Crow, the business community and many ASU alumni. 

While at ASU, Jones received the support of various scholarships including the Leadership Scholarship, the Medallion Scholarship, Undergraduate Student Government Leadership Scholarship and the Ajamie Scholarship Fund.

Jones said the individuals whom he met during his time in the Medallion Scholarship Program — the ASU Alumni Association’s signature scholarship initiative — were instrumental to his personal growth, teaching him lessons about servant leadership and carrying him throughout his career as an undergraduate student.

“Not only has this program provided me with financial aid that has helped me graduate debt-free, but it has provided me with a cohort of some of the most incredible people on ASU’s campus,” he says.

After graduation, Jones will be in the classroom. Currently, he’s a semifinalist for the Fulbright Teaching Fellowship in Kenya, and he’s also considering teaching in New Orleans through Teach For America. 

He has big plans ahead and appreciates his collegiate journey.

“ASU has played a major role in my success as a college student. I am beyond proud to be a Sun Devil and will continue to represent ASU wherever I go,” he said.

Here he answers more questions about his time at ASU.

Question: Why did you choose ASU? What was your favorite spot on campus?

Answer: Growing up, I was always a big ASU fan; my family would go to games, and I grew up walking through campus whenever I would visit my dad at work. That said, when I chose to attend ASU, part of it was to continue the Sun Devil legacy, but another part was the scholarship opportunities that allowed me to attend college without student debt.

When I got to campus, I fell in love with the culture on campus. I loved walking through the different parts of campus, and I always found peace in the Student Services balcony. ASU felt like home to me, I loved the environment, but I did not initially enjoy what I was studying. 

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: So after a year of trying business and not enjoying it, I randomly switched my major to education to pursue a passion for teaching that I didn’t even know I had. When I changed my major to education, everything changed for me — because I was not afraid to change my major, I was able to unlock an entire world of opportunity. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: If I had to give any advice to students currently in school, it would simply be to be fearless in how you live your academic life. ASU has shown me that you must be ambitious to make the change you want to see, and I try to live with that mindset every day. That mindset has only been amplified by my experience in the classroom. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: In one of the study abroad courses I took with a professor named Meseret Hailu, I was shown the international scope of the impact we can have on this world. The conversations we had throughout that trip have inspired me to pursue a career in international education, a field where I will explore how education exists across the world. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Education is the key to success, but it is not always equitable across the world. If I had $40 million to solve a global problem, it would have to be centered around education.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Hopefully, this work can begin post-graduation with a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship in Kenya as I am currently a semifinalist for the program. If not, I will continue to teach in New Orleans through Teach for America. ASU has played a major role in my success as a college student. I am beyond proud to be a Sun Devil and will continue to represent ASU wherever I go.