Written by Zoe Hunter, Staff Writer
Ms. Evonne Jones served the students of Piedmont as a counselor and case manager for over five years, and in that little time, she made a great impact on the lives of students. Her departure leaves an empty space in the counseling office, and in the hearts of Piedmont students and faculty members.
With her last day as a counselor at Piedmont on Jan. 17, hearing of her departure sent shock waves through campus. With news of her leave being made public just a week before her last day, many students were left baffled as to why one of two counselors was leaving.
Though she desired to remain at Piedmont until May graduation, a series of unfortunate and unexpected events made it apparent that her life had a different plan. “If I would have known that I would be resigning at the end of fall semester,” Jones said, “I would absolutely have taken a different approach in informing my students and everyone.”
Jones will begin her new role soon as Program Manager at the Turner Center of the Pathways Community Service Board. The Turner Center is a small facility with focused care and is the only one of its kind in the state of Georgia, offering programs in competency restoration for awareness of self and treating diagnosed behavioral healthcare challenges. Jones’s position is an administrative position where she will be responsible for a small staff who work with juvenile offenders who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Jones loved and enjoyed the work at Piedmont so much that she was willing to spend three hours each day on the road. That sort of drive began to wear on her after a while; especially after more than five years. “It’s important to me that I practice what I preach: self-care and work/life balance,” Jones said. In addition, being originally from South Metro Atlanta, Jones has been wanting to relocate to be closer to her family.
Her warm smile and witty attitude always made her students feel comfortable to talk to her. Whether someone was having a breakdown, or they just wanted someone to laugh with and talk to, Evonne was always the person. Those who know her and the students who are close to her saw Jones as more than just a counselor, but as a longtime friend. Jones sincerely apologizes to anyone whom she may have hurt by her sudden departure. She counts it as one of the greatest honors of her life to have worked with each and every student who graced her door. She never takes it lightly that any one individual would deem her worthy of sharing in their personal struggles and pain, whether as a professional or as a friend.
Although Jones’ impact can never be replaced, it is important that the college fills her position. Counselors are an important aspect of students’ lives and essential for healthy living.
“College is a time of new experiences and testing limits; often it is also a time when students may experience difficulties with alcohol or drug abuse,” writes Brian Van Brunt of the American Counseling Association. “The college experience can also include issues and events that bring about overwhelming stress and psychological problems that affect the personal life and academic performance of the student.”
Van Brant stresses the importance of counseling on college campuses. In times of stress relating to academics, life changes and adjusting to college life in general, these services must be available to keep the health of our campus community.