W&M alumna reflects on fellow trailblazer

Yvonne Smith-Jones M.A.Ed. '87, Ed.S. '93, Ed.D. '97 said seeing the many signs posted around William & Mary commemorating the 50 years of African-American students in residence, brought tears to her eyes.

“We’ve come so far and everyone has done this collectively,” Smith-Jones said in a recent interview.

Smith-Jones, who worked as an educator in Hopewell City Public Schools for over 20 years, reflected on a recent historic moment at William & Mary; her former student, Eboni Brown ’17 was elected as the first African-American student assembly president at William & Mary. Brown served as president during the 2016-2017 school year. Smith-Jones recalled seeing Brown during Convocation last fall.

“To see Eboni holding that mace while bringing the class out — it was just wonderful to see," Smith-Jones said. "When you see people you knew when they were a younger grow up to do these types of things, it’s just awesome to think that you might have touched that person. I’ve had that opportunity with many of my students … I shared that video with everyone I could.”

Smith-Jones described Brown as a stand-out student who was very smart and driven. Brown is currently a middle school mathematics instructor for Teach for America. She is also pursuing a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in educational studies/secondary education from John Hopkins University.

“This is history, she is making history,” Smith-Jones said, referring to the moment she saw Brown at Convocation. “Seeing a woman of color having her hand around that mace — that was great to see.”