Lifelong Learners: Czenzi Jones

Czenzi Jones

Czenzi Jones  

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Human 

Development and Learning

School: University of Illinois at Chicago

Graduation: June 2023

For Czenzi Jones, graduation has gone from distant goal to impending reality. The mother of eight, grandmother of 27, and great-grandmother of six initially went straight into college after high school. But she had to step back when her mother needed hospice care and Jones wanted to help her transition peacefully. 

“Because of life and its unexpectencies, I ended up detoured and had to work, to take care of my family. 

Life showed up and showed out,” Jones says.

Jones grew up in Englewood, on Chicago’s Southside. “[The neighborhood] was and still is in dire need of family-school-community effective communication, resources, and funding,” Jones says. By furthering her own education, she set out to play her part in meeting those needs.

“I have a passion for children and the trajectory of learning, educational excellence,” Jones says. She believes that supporting people in the younger years will “develop them into people who are aware of diversities, different statuses, racism. That, in turn, informs them that they have to respect others because the way that other people think is just as important as the way that they think.”

With her degree, Jones hopes to open a state-of-the-art daycare center where women “of all cultures and colors who are doing something positive within their life” can bring their children. 

“You have to be doing something resourceful in your life, and I’ll assist you any way I can,” Jones says.

Jones hopes school will help her “find out the rules and regulations, the agencies that need to be involved to assist me in my goals.”

Her other motivation? Her family. 

Jones says she feels blessed to be part of her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. “They look upon me to be an example or a model for their lives,” she says. “It’s been a long journey.”

And it isn’t over yet.

Above photo by Jim Vondruska
Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2023 print issue.