Michael Jones ’92 is a big believer in the power of an education. But education wasn’t always his top priority. In 1973, Jones was working full-time at night in data processing at State Farm and taking ISU classes during the day. When another State Farm opportunity involving travel became available, Jones put his education on hold to focus on his career.

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A mentor who saw Jones advancing into State Farm leadership encouraged him to pursue a degree, telling him, “A college degree is not required, but you’ll be less competitive if you don’t have it.”

In 1990, nearly two decades after first enrolling, Jones returned to Illinois State to complete his degree. He credits helpful advisors in the Adult Learning Program and professors willing to teach night classes for his ability to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications as a nontraditional student. His decision to prioritize his education paid off. Jones continued to advance at State Farm until retiring from his role as vice president of Administrative Services in 2014.

Now Jones is the one advocating for students pursuing a college degree. Three of his five children attended Illinois State, and he hopes his youngest will follow suit. Jones and his wife Abigail also support students pursuing a higher education degree through their scholarship, the Michael A. and Abigail M. Jones Family Scholarship in the College of Education.

“We love Illinois State,” said Jones, who is proud of his alma mater and his ability to lift up current and future Redbirds. “It gives us great satisfaction to be able to take down financial barriers for students pursuing their education.”

Jones family members are among more than 54,000 donors to ISU during Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. To learn more about how you too can contribute, visit RedbirdsRising.IllinoisState.edu.