Alumni Feature: Chris Jones
Christopher Jones, 2014 Rutgers BASW alum, says that in his social work practice he wants to “bring light to the world, even in places that seem the darkest.” Jones has also experienced darkness in his own life, during his undergraduate beginnings at his first college, a small private school in Pennsylvania. After experiencing a series of hate crime incidents at school, Jones transferred to Rutgers University, where he found himself surrounded by thousands of people.
“This brought about my new interests with communication, body language, and understanding the relationships people have with one another, which is why I began as a sociology major my freshmen year,” Jones said. However, at the end of Jones’ first semester, his professor approached him after class and told him that he did not belong in sociology. His professor explained that it was because she could see that Chris was destined to do great things in the world, and was meant to share his gift with as many people as he could. It was her advice that led Chris to become a social work major.
Jones credits Professors Jackie Philips and Zina Rodriguez for their impact on his social work education. “Those two strong women taught me that things may get overwhelming at times, but all you have to do is take a deep breath, clear your mind, and try the hardest you can,” Jones said. “They also taught me that you should always view a situation from multiple angles, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter which side of the desk you are sitting on, it’s about what you can do to help everyone you can.”
During his time in the BASW program, Jones was placed at the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities. He assisted in planning events like GAYpril, Ally Week and the LGBT Fall Opening Reception.
Now, Jones is in the process of becoming a certified therapeutic riding instructor at Centenary College. Therapeutic riding involves teaching clients with physical, emotional or psychological disabilities how to horseback ride. There are no therapists involved during the lessons; just the clients, the horses, a certified therapeutic riding instructor, and volunteer side-walkers and leader.
“We use skills they already have and build off of those to allow growth and confidence as a new rider. The kids are an absolute joy to work with, and I can honestly say I am living my dream right now.” Jones says that his new program has provided a breadth of rewarding experiences. “These children and adults face daily challenges. They come and ride for an hour and forget what it feels like to be stressed. I cannot wait to begin instructing on my own, because this is where I was meant to be.”