By Ed Weirauch
Imagine receiving a gift that changes your life, that leaves you feeling so grateful that you just have to give back in return.
That’s exactly how Deonte Jones feels about a gift that he’s living everyday… his education at Williamson College of the Trades.
Deonte is a Horticulture student at Williamson who describes his time here as “a once-in-a-lifetime blessing, especially the free tuition program. We got a gift in our education and so we should give back.”
As a high school student in Forest Hill, MD, Deonte looked at other education programs, including four-year traditional colleges. He says he was impressed by some of them but the financial costs were too great. He didn’t know how he or his family would pay.
“Then I learned about Williamson and that’s when I saw it as a gift. To not have to worry about tuition is really a relief. We’re getting all this, so why not find opportunities to give back?”
And because he loves being outside, Deonte says he sees Williamson and its Horticulture program as a perfect match. “Anything that keeps me outside is a good thing.”
Although he missed his family back in Forest Hill especially during his first year, he concentrated on school work. He was striving to reach his own high standards.
“My goal at first was to never get a ‘C’ in any course. Now it’s to get all ‘As.” And how does he manage that, and play on Williamson’s baseball team? “Time management and setting high standards,” he says with certainty.
Even in his junior year, Deonte has already met some very high standards. He was one of only two juniors to participate in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition. Along with five senior Horticulture students, he competed against some of the top schools in the country.
His team placed first in Arboriculture and Compact Excavator Techniques and among the top ten (out of 43 schools) in Landscape Plant Installation.
“We also got to see different approaches, depending on the landscape of the different schools, such as using pine needles instead of mulch in southern regions.” He says while his Williamson education is providing a solid foundation in the Horticulture field, that experience broadened his view regarding different approaches to projects.
This summer, Deonte will be back in Maryland (Timonium, a little closer to home) working as an intern with Gray & Sons, a site development contractor and construction company. He says he “lured them in” and is their first Williamson intern. He’s ready to handle every aspect of his field: “machine operation, bull dozers, storm water management, concrete construction, utilities and asphalt and paving.”
When he returns to Williamson in the Fall, Deonte is greatly anticipating his capstone project where he and a team will undertake a major project that will draw on every aspect of their Williamson education. These ambitious student-designed projects leave a permanent legacy on the Williamson campus.
And Deonte says he likes the idea that such a project will be one way he gives back to this blessing known as Williamson. After graduation, Deonte thinks he’ll ultimately aim for project manager or field engineer positions. The concept of having his own business has occurred to him, but he says he doesn’t want to deal with all the finance stuff… because that would keep him inside.
Your support makes it possible for students like Deonte to attend Williamson College of the Trades with a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, and board. You can help to prepare the next generation of Williamson Men to be respected leaders and productive members of society by Making a Gift Today.