Ashley Jones

An opportunity to enjoy the “full college experience” has made Ashley Jones an alumna who gives.

Jones, a 2011 graduate of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, works as a bank examiner for the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency. She works out of the agency’s Tulsa, Okla., office, but she travels extensively and spoke recently from Enid, Okla.

Before she landed in her current position, she worked at First National Bank, in a position she started while still a student. Jones was awarded the First Bank Corp. Business Scholarship, a prestigious, full-ride scholarship that helped her graduate free of student debt. She completed a double major in accounting and business communication.

The scholarship is awarded to students with strong academic backgrounds and great leadership potential. It awards up to $32,000 over four years to students who live on campus.

Jones’ extracurricular activities demonstrate that she was committed to developing the leader inside her. In addition to her membership in Gamma Phi Beta, she participated in the First Bank Corp. Scholars of Distinction Student Leadership Council, the Collegiate Ambassadors Board, Phi Beta Lambda and the University Student Ambassadors.

In 2015 and 2016, Jones made contributions to UAFS through 48 Hours of Giving, and she intends to do so again this year, which will earn her a place in the 1928 Loyalty Society as a graduate who has given three years in a row.

“I was on scholarship when I was at UAFS,” she explained. “I just feel very blessed because I was able to graduate without any student loan debt. I worked while I was in college, but I wasn’t stressing over bills. I was able to get involved on campus and really get the full college experience.”

Many students, she said, miss out on that full experience because their work schedule means they don’t have time to be involved in campus activities.

“In my opinion, college is more than just the classroom learning,” she said.

It was her extracurricular activities that taught her leadership and networking.

“In my job today, from my first day on the job, I was very involved with and communicating with senior bank management.” Being able to do that, she said was the product of her extracurricular activities, which put her in contact with members of the community and donors.

“As a student ambassador we were always attending special events like the Season of Entertainment, interacting with all different people, learning communications and networking. Furthering your career after college isn’t anything that came from your classes.”

Jones says her own plans for furthering her career aren’t firm yet. She might stay with field work, or she might like to work specifically with large banks, or she might prefer to work in policy. She debates pursuing a master’s degree. Whichever path she takes, her classroom studies and extracurricular experience have prepared her.

She is not yet at a point in her career where she can donate a lot, Jones said, but “I give the small amount that I can and hopefully (I’ll) be able to increase that over the years as my financial situation improves.”