CMC paved a new path forward for Jones
Stanley Jones thought he had it made.
A star football running back in high school in southern Alabama, he had worked hard to earn a full ride scholarship nine years ago to play the game he loved and study at Troy University.
It was a dream come true.
“Earning a college degree had been instilled in me since I was young and was something my parents said was important for me to do,” Jones said.
But that dream turned into a nightmare, brought on by Jones’ own self-described immaturity and inability to take advantage of a great opportunity. His year and a half spent at Troy was plagued by bad decisions and too much partying.
“I was in a downward spiral and didn’t know how to get out of it,” Jones said.
He ended up forfeiting his scholarship, dropped out of college and moved back in with his parents, only to continue down the wrong path.
“I tried and I failed, and I don’t like doing that,” he said.
Now 27, Jones has found his path again, thanks to Jaywalker Lodge, an intensive in-patient addiction recovery program in Carbondale, and thanks to Colorado Mountain College.
Jones will share his story of redemption as one of two student speakers when 11 graduates are awarded bachelor’s degrees this evening through CMC’s four-year degree program at the Spring Valley campus.
The ceremony continues a week of commencement exercises at Spring Valley that began with the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy graduation Wednesday, and concludes with the awarding of nursing and associates degrees Saturday.
Jones will receive his bachelor of science in business administration with an emphasis in management and marketing.
He had failed out of four colleges before his parents and friends intervened and sent him west to give Jaywalker’s treatment program a try.
“I’d never been to Colorado,” he said. “I really have to credit Jaywalker Lodge with the success I have today. It’s what opened my eyes to a new way of living and put me on the right path again.”
After his initial 90-day treatment program, Jones decided to give college a try again and enrolled at CMC through the “Jaywalker U” program.
“I didn’t know if it was possible for me to pass a class after what I had been through,” he said. “But this time, I cared. And for the first time, I gave it a real shot.”
Jones began working closely with Craig Farnum, student counselor at CMC’s Lappala Center in Carbondale, to help plot his course toward a bachelor’s degree.
“Stanley just had a lot of integrity, and I could see that wherever I happened to encounter him,” said Farnum, who also introduced Jones to mountain biking. “That presence is just always consistent with him.”
He contributed that in the classes he took as well, serving as a role model to the younger students who sometimes were struggling the same way he had when he first got to college, Farnum said.
“He was also a great role model for the other Jaywalker students who were in recovery,” he said. “And he built a relationship with the faculty, which is where he was able to thrive.”
Jaywalker U has since been disbanded as a formal program, although Jaywalker still works closely with CMC to offer educational opportunities for its clients, Farnum said.
Jones has also been working at Jaywalker as an expedition coordinator, but said he is ready to give that up and see where his new college degree takes him. Initially, he will begin working as a valet in Aspen, and plans to stay in the area if he can.
“The main thing I’ve learned through this journey is that I can’t run away from fear, I have to face it,” he said.
In addition to the 11 bachelor of science degrees that will be awarded this evening at Spring Valley, CMC will award 47 nursing degrees and 36 associate of applied science degrees on Saturday.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon may be closed intermittently Wednesday through the weekend, as highway crews break down and remove boulders and patch potholes caused by Tuesday’s rock slide.