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Alum Constance Colon-Jones Uses
Life Experiences In Evolving Service Career

10/24/11


West Windsor, N.J. - With Spanish as her primary language as a youngster, the first assignment for native New Yorker Dr. Constance Colon-Jones '77 (A.S., Business Administration) was to master English, the spoken language of most of her classmates. She absorbed it quickly and over the years has helped other non-native speakers with this most critical skill for personal and career success. Yet, that is only a small example of Colon-Jones' impact on the lives of others.

Her road to success has been a circuitous one. Launching her career as an executive administrative assistant in Manhattan, Colon-Jones ultimately became an academician whose main focus was to help students break down professional and cultural barriers. "Every single initiative I have been involved in has been labor intensive, but very joyful," she said. "I have made career decisions based on personal and professional aspirations. It's been a fruitful outcome."

She worked full time during her first experience as a college student in the mid-60s, when she attended the City University of New York. "I had no other option but to pay my own way through college," she said. Working for a Fortune 500 company proved a good complement to her schooling, as she learned about the culture of corporate America. After marrying, Colon-Jones and her husband moved first to northern New Jersey and then to East Windsor. She enrolled at MCCC in 1974 and felt right at home.

Constance Colon-Jones '77

"All of my professors were highly knowledgeable," Colon-Jones recalls. "I was impressed with them. They made me think back to my days when I tutored non-native speakers in my neighborhood. I wanted to teach from that point on."

As a Mercer student, Colon-Jones immersed herself in issues dear to her. As a young mother juggling work and responsibilities on the home front, she served as vice president of the Council for the Student Mothers' Daycare Center, which operated at that time on the West Windsor campus. Tackling childcare issues and creating opportunities for students' professional development and advancement were at the top of her list.

One of Colon-Jones' early career high points came in 1979 when she was appointed by then Governor Brendan Byrne to serve on the New Jersey Commission on the Status of Women, where she played a critical role in examining and advocating for the needs of women in New Jersey and beyond.

Colon-Jones was also intent on continuing her education. She transferred to the College of New Jersey, earning a bachelor's degree in Business and Education and Languages in 1983 and a master's degree in English Linguistics with a specialization in Educational Foundations in 1988. She added certifications to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) and to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). While in school, she taught English and business at area schools and also worked as a private tutor.

Relocating to Central Pennsylvania, Colon-Jones continued to pursue her education, earning her institutional doctoral equivalency in Communication from Penn State University. She joined the Penn State faculty in the College of Communications, where she taught and advised students, and developed and implemented a language laboratory. She also developed programming for an social service agency that addressed the needs of non-native speakers.

As she reflects on her wealth of experiences, Colon-Jones sees them all as a motivational force for the new direction her life has taken. A South Carolina resident for the past 10 years - and clearly not ready for retirement - she serves as an independent consultant and as a lay minister in the Roman Catholic Church. She is an active member of the American Association for University Women and continues to publish books, among other activities on her busy schedule.

Colon-Jones encourages MCCC students to do a personal inventory about what makes them tick in order to plan for a satisfying and productive future. "I am a prime example of an evolving self," Colon-Jones maintains. "Look at yourself and your environment. Seek a good mentor and set goals that motivate you. You can make things happen."


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