Growing up pretty much anywhere in America, there is always good and bad. Becoming a teen and the years leading into adulthood really help shape and mold many young minds. Some people strive for greatness, while others succumb to the negativity surrounding the environments they’ve been raised in. For some who may have taken the “wrong path” earlier in life, finding the will power to become better tends to reside within their wildest dreams.
For, Adrian Jones, he refused to let his old decisions shape his future. 2019 has been a great year for him. From his former gang affiliations, being a member who was constantly in and out of jail to now being a college graduate. Jones is proof that roses do indeed grow from concrete.
This past spring, Jones took the stage, graduating from The Ohio State University, with honors!
At the impressionable age of 16, Jones first joined a gang in Columbus.
“Drugs came to Columbus in ’84, ’85 and that was my first influence of guns …and you know, when the drugs came that was the first time I ever had a gun,” Jones recalls.
“It was about being that man—and most importantly it was about survival–you know when I started selling drugs in our community you know, we had an impoverished community,” he said.
Being heavily influenced by his gang lifestyle, Jones spent the next 20 years in and out of jail. But, he made his last time, the last time! He returned home with a GED and definitely had a new outlook and goals to achieve. He started taking classes at Columbus State and even registered at OSU, but was turned down due to his extensive criminal background with guns and drugs.
Instead of being defeated, Jones found other ways to be a positive contributing member of society. He started working with the Columbus Urban League, mentoring and talking to teens about conflict resolution.
After some time, he found the courage to re-apply to OSU, and this time, he was accepted!
Jones held his head high receiving his degree in social work and graduating with honors and a 3.9 GPA.
“I had a little ego involved…I did it to show people that this ain’t who we are. The narrative that you all got about people in our community [are] criminals and gang bangers and drug dealers—no, we’re human beings and given the opportunity with a fair play and a fair stage, this is what we do,” Jones stated proudly.