The road to graduation: A student’s inspiring journey to success

Blair Wood Jones endured an underperforming school system for most of her K-12 education but persevered, becoming the salutatorian of her high school and now a graduate of USF St. Pete.

ST. PETERSBURG — Blair Wood Jones grew up in an area where getting a basic education was challenging. The schools she attended in her local district were on academic probation nearly the entire time she advanced from K-12th grade.

Many of her classmates experienced poverty, violence, and discrimination, and it was common every year for teachers to quit. Jones persevered, becoming the salutatorian of her high school and an advocate for educational access.

“I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to move away, able to attend an amazing university, and now have such a bright future ahead of me,” said Jones, who is graduating this spring with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the USF St. Petersburg campus. “And this highlights the importance of access. The things we have access to have the ability to limit or expand the possibilities of our outcomes.”

With a family who owned a small business back home and a desire to own a coffee shop one day, Jones said the entrepreneurship program appealed to her by teaching her how to blend creativity and new thinking methods with traditional business education.

During her time at USF, she won a sustainability pitch competition for a community transit project she developed, was recognized for advancing ideals and overcoming adversity at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards banquet, studied abroad in Colombia and completed an educational programming internship at the Dali Museum.

Upon earning her degree, Jones plans to attend graduate school at USF while beginning the process of opening her own business.

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