Jesse Jones - Columbus State Community College 50th Anniversary

At a young age, Jesse Jones understood the importance of a good education and networking. As a working professional, she takes advantage of both.

Jones is now the development director at CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence, a shelter for battered women. Her route from college to the nonprofit world came through a private law firm and a stint as an aide in the Ohio Senate. She also works part time as a professional actor, working in community theater and commercials, and modeling for advertisements and catalogues.

Jones points to her time at Columbus State as a reason for her early success, particularly with networking.

"Columbus State was hosting this workshop on 'What is Lobbying?' and as part of this workshop you had to meet with an elected official," says Jones. "I met with the elected official and he mentioned that I should be a part of this women's club in Columbus that encourages women to vote and run for office. I attended one of their events and met some amazing ladies. I am now on the board of that club, and the women I have met have hooked me up with at least two jobs, including the one I have now."

"Many people don't realize that Columbus State is an employee pumping machine for Columbus."

Jones says she's amazed at the number of Columbus State graduates she's met in the workplace.

"Many people don't realize that Columbus State is an employee pumping machine for Columbus. The landscape of Columbus, and my personal landscape, would be much different if it weren't for the college.

Jones graduated from Columbus State in 2007 with an associate of arts degree. She went on to The Ohio State University and earned a bachelor's degree in history.

Jones and her sister, Jennifer, who's also a Columbus State graduate, were the first two members of their immediate family to graduate from college. Both women went on to earn bachelor's degrees from OSU. And they both agree that the foundation they received at Columbus State enabled them to pursue additional education.

"In many families where college is expected, you probably grow up hearing about dorms and professors, so you might already know what to expect when college comes," says Jones. "In our family, college was this unknown and intimidating place. However, the professors at Columbus State, which at first seemed big and overpopulated, really tried to cater to those of us without that strong college background in our families."

Images: A Year in the Life of Columbus State