Marcella Jones
Marcella Jones, Alumni Hall of Fame, 2013

It was the fall of 1977, and Kansas native Marcella Jones was an excited college freshman ready for a new adventure. She didn’t realize, however, the adventure would take some unexpected turns—and ultimately land her in a faculty position at Minneapolis College.

Shortly before enrolling at the University of Kansas, Marcella decided to major in civil engineering.

Why that field?

“I didn’t actually know what engineering was,” she recalls. “But everyone told me it was what I should do since I’d always been a strong math and science student—and you could earn a handsome salary as an engineer.”

After two years in the program, she got married and left school to become a full-time mother. By 1988, Marcella had moved to Minnesota and restarted her academic career by enrolling in a calculus course at Minneapolis College. It was an eye-opening experience. “I realized it never made sense to pursue an engineering career—the path just didn’t fit me,” she says, adding she also accepted that math was her true passion. “As a child, I loved the sense of order and arrangement particular to math. Time would fly when I was studying the subject.”

Jones experienced another epiphany at Minneapolis College.

“My experience at the College was so rewarding I realized I wanted to have the same effect on students’ lives that the Minneapolis College faculty had on mine,” said Jones. “My mentor was Diana Hestwood, a mathematics instructor who has since retired from Minneapolis College. She helped me see my love for math and my joy in helping others learn the subject was what I found truly rewarding.”

Jones eventually transferred to the University of Minnesota, where she graduated magna cum laude with a mathematics degree and a minor in computer science. She went on to earn a master’s degree in math.

Her next step was a logical one: return to Minneapolis College. She has worked as a mathematics instructor at the college since 1994, and has taught everything from introductory algebra to multivariable calculus over the last 19 years. She says the job never gets old.

“My journey has helped me develop a passion for understanding my students’ journeys,” said Jones. “I still never tire of seeing the light that shines when a student realizes a certain mathematical truth for the first time or when something that seemed difficult suddenly becomes clear and attainable."

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