RCC Alum Edith Jones reflects back on her time as a student
Before Edith Jones became known as the 2023-2024 Senior Ms. Lumbee, she had another major accomplishment that she still celebrates to this day.
“I was the first out of six children to graduate college,” Jones stated. “That gave me an overwhelming sense of pride.”
Jones is an alumnus of Robeson Community College. She earned an associate degree in business computer programming in 1993 while working at UNC Southeastern as a housekeeper and also while juggling two other full-time jobs.
“I had worked on my degree since 1987,” Jones said. “It took a little while, but I did it, and I can honestly say, I earned every grade.”
Jones never dreamed that she would become a college graduate, but when she walked across the finish line, she knew her life was about to change for the better.
After she graduated, Jones got the promotion of a lifetime.
“I became the senior payroll specialist at the hospital,” Jones said with joy. “The hospital found out that I had graduated and they said, ‘Don’t leave us,” and so now I have been with them for 30 years.”
From housekeeper to senior payroll specialist, Jones has had quite the career and says that it proves her time spent at RCC was well worth the effort, saying, “All my classes helped pave the way for my role in Finance Department at UNC Health Southeastern.”
As Jones reflects back on her time as a student at Robeson Community College, she remembers all the good moments that she experienced, and how her instructors helped her overcome fears of working with technology.
“RCC is my heart,” tells Jones. “I couldn’t have asked for better professors. John Atkinson taught my first computer class, he said, ‘Don’t be afraid to use the computer,’ I had never used one before, and he was so nice and helpful in teaching me how to use one.”
“I’m so thankful, most of all I’m blessed,” stated Jones. “With going to school, you have to put your mind to it, God has people in place to help you, but you have to take the initiative first…God has plans for our life, He wants to give us the best life.”
The gratitude Jones has for her education is apparent and it is something she does not take for granted.
“I am forever grateful to RCC,” Jones said. “Without RCC, I never would have been able to achieve this kind of success… It is a great community college to attend.”
Jones continues to look to the future. With being Senior Ms. Lumbee, new doors continue to open, as she represents her tribe as a Lumbee Ambassador.
“I’m having the most wonderful time,” Jones said. “I cannot put into words how proud I am to represent my people as Senior Ms. Lumbee.”
While attending the Native American Heritage Month Celebration at Robeson Community College in November, Jones spoke eloquently about her time at RCC and also sang a song for the audience.
“I’m proud to be a Lumbee Indian, yes I am,” she sang to the crowd. “When I grow up into this world, I’m going to be just what I am… my mother and father, they believed in me, they want me to be free, free to be anything that I want to be…”
“This was the first song I learned as a Lumbee student in the fourth grade,” Jones told those attending the celebration. “In the 4th grade at Deep Branch School, I was chosen to be in the first Indian Education choir, that traveled around North Carolina. We went to Washington, D.C., to sing for US House of Representative Charlie Rose at the Capitol.”
“The most important thing about being Senior Ms. Lumbee is giving recognition to our elders and paving the way for our younger students,” she said.
“There is no reason to not get an education. Education is very important. There are many more funding opportunities nowadays to obtain a degree,” Jones said. “And RCC has many new programs available. RCC has grown but it still has the same family environment that it had when I attended.”
Jones says that when she is out in the community, she often says, “Look y’all, go to RCC. That’s where I started, and that’s the place to go if you want to further your education.”
She even encouraged her daughter, Ashley, to attend Robeson Community College because she had such a positive experience.
“She had dropped out of high school, but she returned to RCC to complete her high school diploma,” Jones stated. “From there, she went on to obtain her Nursing Assistant License from RCC and now she is working in the pharmacy….we are a proud family of RCC.”
When Senior Ms. Lumbee is not fulfilling duties for the Lumbee Tribe, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes two children and three grandchildren. And, when she can take time off from work, she loves having a chance to travel to Chapel Hill to watch the UNC Tarheels play.
“That was my Christmas gift to myself,” Jones said. “I couldn’t wait to go to the UNC game and go shopping along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill… that’s my happy place.”