November 8, 2010
By Sarah Hanan
When Kashima Jones served in the Navy from 2004 to 2008, she was stationed at Marines Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. She won numerous awards working as a dental technician, providing care to Marines as they deployed to and returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am so grateful to people who are willing to go to war and make huge sacrifices for all of us back home,” says Jones, who today is a sophomore biology major in Dedman College and member of the Navy Reserve. Her husband, Necorian Jones, who is also a Navy veteran and active Reservist, is a junior mathematics major in Dedman College and a member of the SMU football team.
Necorian and Kashima Jones
The couple are two of the more than 140 undergraduate and graduate students who currently attend SMU on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides education benefits to military veterans and their dependents. The bill is a 2008 update to the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, which had given World War II veterans college scholarships to institutions of their choice.
Kashima Jones, who is from Miami, transferred to SMU this fall from Mountain View College in Dallas. She continues to serve as a dental technician at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Station Fort Worth and hopes to become a Navy dentist. “I was excited that I could complete my pre-dental studies at SMU in three years,” she says. “The professors have been supportive and work hard to help us achieve our goals.”
Jones also is working to form a student organization for SMU’s military members. “It would offer camaraderie and support,” she says. “It could bring together all of us who can relate to life in the military – veterans, reservists, active-duty students, family members – and also anyone who’s interested in learning more about the military.”
Provost Paul Ludden says military veterans and their families, as well as active military members, have long been important members of the SMU community. “They bring unique, global perspectives to the classroom and campus,” he says. “We are proud that after serving our country, many are choosing to continue their education at SMU.”
James Noel, a former second-class petty officer in the Navy, transferred to SMU this fall after studying for two years at Richland College in Dallas. He is a sophomore majoring in economics in Dedman College and accounting in the Cox School of Business, and hopes to start an online retail business.
Noel, who is from Chicago, joined the Navy after high school in 2001 and spent six years on active duty and two years in the reserves. After training to become a sonar technician, he served aboard warships around the world, including in the Arabian Gulf during the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
He says his military experience taught him to be prepared for anything. “If you’re just on time, you’re late,” he says. “I make sure I’m ready for class even before class starts.”
Noel’s travels to underdeveloped countries have made him appreciative of educational and career opportunities in the United States, he says. “In the military, you’re there for a purpose - not to earn a paycheck, but to serve your country,” he says. “But students here, who are working toward their degrees and jobs, also are working to further the mission of this country.”
Chris Dell ’11 contributed to this story.