Life doesn't come easy. This is exactly what Saint Leo student Kisha Jones knows too well. But the former nurse has never let adversity slow her down.

The 42-year-old mother resides in Douglasville, Ga. and attends Saint Leo's Marietta Education Center.

"I've had my house flood, and I lost a close friend," Jones confides. "Between family, friends, my Christian faith and being positive, I've been able to stay on the dean's list. I'm always just trying to keep my head up. I like to think I'm an inspiration to somebody. If I can do it, you can do it."

A Career Shift

Jones began her working life in the medical field caring for ill patients.

"I started out doing nursing in an acute long-term care unit in a hospital," she says. "Then I changed careers completely and went back to school to get my associate's in criminal justice."

For the past 14 years, she has worked for the Cobb County Sheriff's Office. She began her stint there as a detention specialist processing inmates before moving to the accounting department.

"I remember thinking, "Oh my goodness. What have I gotten myself into?'" she recalls. "But over time, the things I used to see that shocked me no longer do."

Selecting Saint Leo

She earned two associate's degrees in applied science and criminal justice and is now pursuing a bachelor's in criminal justice with a minor in accounting.

"I remember talking to several students at my old school who had gone to Saint Leo. They mentioned how flexible and affordable the classes were and how much they liked their instructors. So, I decided to go and check it out. I found that their flexibility in scheduling my classes was so much better."

Jones says that the Marietta Education Center has such a comforting vibe.

"Walking in, you always see Ms. Diana at the front desk waiting to greet you. There is always someone there who says, "Hey. How are you doing?' It's a really friendly, family-oriented place. Yes, it's school, but I honestly don't really feel like I'm at a formal school when I go there."

A few criminal justice professors have really made a mark on her educational journey.

"Judge Mark Scott is so inspirational. He constantly tells his students that we are scholars and have to think and behave like scholars. Michelle Allen also made a real impact on me. She is so down-to-earth and never acts like she is better than us. She was always so helpful and available whenever I needed her."

Balancing School, Work, & Family

Being a wife of 18 years and having a teenage son and a daughter in the Navy, it's no secret that Jones has plenty on her plate.

"I have certain times when I do my homework and study," she explains. "My husband and son are so supportive. They look at the clock and say, 'It's homework time.' My husband will cook on those days when I have a lot of schoolwork to work on. It takes discipline to run a household while being a full-time mom, full-time employee and full-time student. You have to set aside so many hours per day just to get everything done."

A Passion for Success

In the spring of 2017, Jones was inducted into the Phi Gamma Mu Honor Society due to her good grades at Saint Leo. She explains why she's always had her eyes looking toward success.

"Even as a little girl, I've always made good grades. I'm really particular about not making bad grades. If I get a C on something, I'm almost in tears. I guess I am just driven to do well."

Career Outlook

Thanks to her experience at the sheriff's office, Jones is eager to complete her degree and start lending a helping hand to young people in need.

"I hope to go into juvenile justice," she says. "My goal is to get these kids before they become adult criminals. I feel that if you can impact the lives of young people, you're doing something great."

She offers up some words of wisdom to any prospective students looking for a brighter future.

"My advice is that it's never too late to go back to school or change careers. All things are possible if you trust and believe in yourself."

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog post was provided by Mickisha Jones and is used with permission.