I am passionate about social justice, community, photography and poetry.
There are only a few weeks left until graduation and among the 2018 graduates will be Ron Jones, a 73 year-old past Windsor firefighter and city of Windsor Councillor.
Jones will be receiving his third degree – this one in Political Science – from the University of Windsor.
He got his first degree in Fire Technology and became a firefighter at the age of 21.
“Finishing with Political Science and it’s been a pleasure. I have a general degree in fire technology and then a Master’s degree in fire technology and I wound up teaching fire technology at the ontario fire college,” said Jones.
Jones speaks on the challenges he faced as a Black firefighter.
“It was difficult in terms of it was a closed shop. People of colour were not invited into firefighting. Actually being discouraged to apply to firefighting. I was the second Black firefighter in the entire department. Probably in about 10 in all of Ontario,” said Jones.
“It was a bigoted place. There were some that truly did not want me on the premises and they made it very clear. My very first day on the job, I heard the ‘N’ word on a couple of occasions.”
Grandson Darius Anthony Rovere convinced Jones to go back to school. Darius and two of Jones’s other grandkids will all be graduating in May of 2018.
“We were just talking about further education and he was saying how he had done a few programs for firefighting and he had started university but never finished, and so I said why didn’t you finish and he didn’t have an answer as to why,” said Rovere.
After retiring from the Windsor Fire and Rescue Services after 35 years, Jones became a City Councillor representing Ward 2 in the city’s west end from 2002. He was on City Counsel for 12 years.
He remembers the conversation he had with his grandson.
“After retiring from city council, my grandson asked me one time why I did not finish my university degree, and you know what, I had no answer, I had no excuse, I had nothing. He said why don’t you give it a go, and I’ve come back and I’ve stuck it out,” said Jones.
Some of the challenges Jones faced was getting used to the technology.
“The biggest obstacle had to be working with the computer and getting the computer to work for you,” said Jones.
If Jones could name one negative experience at the University of Windsor, he said it would be waking up for 8:30 a.m. classes in the Winter.
Jones has made special friendships with his classmates. Paula Ajala-Alexis, a third year political science major, says that she will miss Jones when he graduates.
“I love seeing him around campus. He’s honestly a joy. Running into him brightens your day and having him around, having him at school with me, being able to bounce off ideas off of him or ask him about professors and stuff like that is way easier,” said Ajala-Alexis. “But I know he’s going on to bigger and better things. He’s graduating, but he’s going for more schooling. I’m proud of him, but I’m sad for me.”
Although Jones will be graduating in May, he’s not stopping there. In September he will be continuing his studies at St. Claire College in the paralegal program.
Jones speaks about what he’s learned at his time at the University.
“Learning is lifelong. You know you have to keep your mind open and I think thats been one of the biggest things that I can take away from here; the ability to do research. I’ve learned to compare different authors, look at different views, and take the good from one and the good from the other, compare them and present arguments,” said Jones.
What some people may not know about Jones is that he was a boxer when he was younger.
“There was a club called the Police Athletic Lead run by police officers. They were in our community; I was raised in a lower-middle class area. They were recruiting people and I went in and I liked it. I boxed for about 16 years,” said Jones.
Jones speaks about what he thinks the ‘key to life’ is.
From Firefighter, to City Counsellor and soon to be Political Science Graduate, Jones shows us that anything is possible if you put your mind to it – and age is no barrier.