For someone who spends a lot of time in midair, Fred Jones is an exceptionally grounded young man. The winner of the 2006 NCAA outdoor championship in the triple jump and an NCAA qualifier in both the triple and long jump events all four years at Tufts, the 2007 graduate strived for nothing less than victory during his time as a Jumbo.
As a high school freshman in Amherst, Mass., Jones spent most of his time on the basketball court. But while dunking, his vertical leap attracted the attention of his gym coach, who suggested he try out for the track and field team. After joining the team as a sophomore, he found his calling and began racking up wins.
Jones came to Tufts seeking to make an immediate impact on both the indoor and outdoor track and field squads—which he did, heading to the NCAAs as a first-year student and landing just centimeters away from a national championship. This year, he took second place in both the triple and long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and finished his career as a 10-time All-American.
"To go out there and put on the colors of this university and for me to represent my team, my family, my background, I feel like I'm taking all that into jumps," he said.
While Jones came to Tufts focused on track, he was undecided on a major. That changed during the fall semester of his junior year, when he fell in love with politics after participating in the Tufts-in-Washington program.
An internship at the National Forum for Black Public Administrators spurred an interest in public policy, particularly with regards to education. Over the past two summers, Jones has also been part of a group of prominent African-American college males selected for a leadership program at the Institute for Responsible Citizenship.
Jones, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in public policy, became involved with the Pan-African Alliance, of which he was vice president, and the Black Men's Group, of which he was the co-president. He also did outreach work with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
"I just try to really work very hard, and I use that to even the playing field," says Jones. "If I know I may not be as talented or skilled in a certain area, at least I know I worked the hardest in it."