Annalise Jones was pretty sure Georgetown College was for her. But she had one truly unique consideration.
The Great Crossing graduate called “A.J.” by her friends, was excited about being part of the Georgetown cheer team and already had a friend lined up as a campus roomie.
But there was a big psychological hurdle.
Georgetown President William A. Jones was also known to her as “Dad”.
“I don’t tell people that” A.J. said on a recent conference call from the family kitchen. Her inflection is one that anyone who has been, or is, the parent of a teen would appreciate.
But, she said “My friends will say ‘A.J. she’s the president’s daughter’.”
“I just don’t like to be introduced that way,” she said, adding she wants to be known and judged on her own merits.
Dad takes it in stride.
“It makes sense to be that she wants to carve out her own space. I was young once, too,” he said. “I’m proud that she is going to be one of our hard-working students.”
He said A.J. has always been quick at making friends and making a contribution to the community she is a part of. She was Great Crossing’s first Homecoming Queen just months after coming to the school.
He said he hopes her experience at college will be transformative.
But that is not only his hope for the oldest of his six children but also for the freshman class of 2020. Jones was announced as president in July of 2019. Last year the school had its largest freshman class in nine years with 314 freshmen. This year it is an all-time record of 450.
Jones said the Legends and Legacy Scholarship offered to students in Scott, Owen, Franklin and Casey counties was part of encouraging the region’s best and brightest, like A.J., to stay close to home. That scholarship provides free tuition as long as qualifying students live on campus and pay for room and board.
“Georgetown is well known across the state in the region,” said Jones. He said the school has especially benefitted in recent years from a high percentage of Georgetown students finding jobs within six months of graduation.
For A.J. that would be a job in criminal justice. While she hopes to spend her college years cheering the Tigers to victory, ultimately she hopes to be a police detective.
Jones, a native of Kenesee Hollow in Whitely County and Berea College graduate, said it will be an interesting year, not only as his daughter embarks on her college education but as the campus as a whole tries to deal with new safety measures as the coronavirus adds significant challenges.
The school has worked hard to make sure everyone, including his daughter, have an optimal and safe learning experience.
As for A.J. her mom, Amy, help pick out a dorm room ensemble of salmon and gray. Her home chores in the last few years have included taking care of her own laundry. So she know how it works, but like many a new college freshman hasn’t put “laundry” at the top of their to-do list. (“I hate to do laundry,” she said.)
Jones has talked in other interviews about the influence of growing up in poverty and how his parents instilled in him the importance of education. He told the News-Graphic “I remember digging a hole for a new outhouse with my dad, taking a little break, and my dad said ‘You know son….college graduates have indoor plumbing.’ I walking back from Jellico (a nearby town) with my Mom and my Mom said, ‘You know son…college graduates have cars.’ That was the lesson regularly in my life. I would not be here today without my mom and dad telling me ‘You will be a college graduate’.”
A.J. also clearly go the message and was also pretty clear on where she would get that education. She made a visit to only one other school and feels secure in the decision to the attend Georgetown.
Her Dad is confident she can work out any kinks in communication.
“There will definitely be some challenges both ways,”he said. “We will just talk through them and work through them together.”
As for A.J. she says she will miss her younger siblings and the family dogs. But, she’s ready to take some definite steps toward independence…..even if it is close to home.
“She is going to be such a strong and independent woman,” said Jones, “and I’m proud of that.”
MARY MEEHAN is a freelance corespondent for the News-Graphic and can be reached at email@example.com.