Under 1 Roof
“When I first arrived at Eastfield, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in; I wasn’t sure that I could get through college. I was a single mom of four — my children were 1, 2, 3 and 4 — but I knew that I needed to do something for me and my kids so that I could earn a living for all of us. And because of my own situation, I knew that I wanted to be a help to someone else.
“Gloria Jackson was a good mentor who stayed on me to keep focused. When it came time to continue my education, she was instrumental in helping me make the decisions to take my education to a higher level. Once I earned my bachelor’s degree, she called me up and said, ‘Well, what about a master’s degree in social work?’
“The most important things I learned in Eastfield’s Social Work program was integrity and making sure that you have good follow-through as well as the importance of the social work code of ethics — you rely on these ethics as a social worker. You treat people the way you’d want to be treated, with dignity and respect. That social work code of ethics I learned at Eastfield took me right through my master’s degree. My bachelor’s and master’s programs really just accentuated much of what I’d already learned at Eastfield; that’s where I received what I really needed to determine that this was the correct field for me to make a difference in my community.
“My advice to students thinking of entering social work or substance abuse counseling is to go ahead and set your goals high — but then concentrate on completing each level where you are. I never set out at community college to obtain a master’s degree. I just wanted to get a certificate, not an associate degree, but I ended up with two degrees because I could see how well social work and substance abuse counseling intertwined. If you take baby steps, then you can accomplish your goals.
“I love what I do — because I see that I have made a difference in the community. You have to remember that I went to college as a single mom with four children under the age of 4, and I did it with the grace of God, great family support and Eastfield. If not for Gloria Jackson taking the time with me and leading by example and showing me that yes, I can do this — to show me how to be goal-oriented and take baby steps to reach each goal — I wouldn’t be where I am today. My oldest daughter says, ‘You inspire me, mom.’ That’s worth it all right there.”
Verna Jones earned dual associate degrees in Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling from Eastfield in 1998. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in social work (M.S.W.), both from Texas A&M University-Commerce. The former interim executive director of the Housing Crisis Center of Dallas, she is the founder and executive director of Under 1 Roof, an organization dedicated to providing transitional and permanent housing to homeless individuals and families. Its network of services includes job training, family and youth programs, substance abuse treatment and community organizing.