ROTC plays key role in Tilghman teen's success
"I love that they call me ROTC mom or ROTC queen. I take it seriously," she said.
"I just want others to feel like, you can be me one day. You can grow up and be a great leader. I want to be a positive influence on people. I want to be a role model for my brothers and sisters, the people younger than me, to show them that you can be whoever you want to be in life. All you have to do is push yourself."
Jones has certainly pushed herself through her high school years, and she intends to keep on pushing.
She has her sites set on attending George Washington University in Washington D.C., next fall to study psychology, biochemistry or social work. Austin Peay is her second choice, and she's already been accepted there.
Regardless of where she goes, she will continue with the ROTC and enlist in either the U.S. Navy or Air Force after graduation.
Jones, daughter of Lola Jones of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each Monday, The Sun features a different teen selected from nominees submitted by school counselors across western Kentucky and southern Illinois. A Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners and receive a $2,500 scholarship.
For now, Jones has a busy final semester of high school ahead. In addition to her ROTC activities and coursework, she is juggling Advanced Placement and honors classes, track, community service activities and a part-time job waiting tables at IHOP. She's earned a near-perfect grade-point average, a 3.82.
Hers is an intense schedule, but she enjoys it. She can't talk about ROTC, school or even her job at IHOP without smiling. She's proud of what she's accomplished and grateful for her teachers, family and friends who have encouraged and supported her along the way.
"I thank God every day for these people who help me in my life," she said.
"I'm just so thankful that I'm alive and that I get to do the things that I do. To be honest, sometimes I don't know how I juggle everything. I just focus. My mind is set. All I have to do is keep pushing myself and focus on achieving my goals and getting where I want to be in life."