The annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. will begin Monday morning at 10 a.m. with a parade that will conclude at the HFV Wilson Community Center with a children’s choir and a guest speaker. Speaking this year will be Mautra Staley Jones, vice president of institutional advancement and external affairs for Langston University.
A graduate of Ardmore High School, Jones said the city’s school system gave her the educational foundation she needed to excel in her life.
“I want to give a special shout out to Ardmore Public Schools,” Jones said. “My heart is so full of pride because of everything that the teachers instilled in us. I received an excellent education and everything I learned started there.”
Jones said that her involvement in various school organizations such as National Honor Society, Latin Club and 4-H, along with the instruction of some very special teachers helped make her into the woman she is today.
“I have several favorite teachers that I can think back to who pushed me and challenged me,” Jones said. “I would love to name names but I don’t want to do that because I would inevitably leave somebody out. But just know that I have so much love, gratitude, and appreciation for all that the community did to ensure my success.”
Jones said that she also had a strong support system at home. Her mother and grandmother shared the responsibility of raising Jones and her siblings, and they always did as much as they could to ensure the children had a good life.
“I can look back as an adult and say that as a child it’s very hard being poor because you just don’t understand a lot of things,” Jones said. “My grandmother ensured that we were exposed to so much, and that’s what really fostered my desire to want better.”
When her family was unable to afford the activities Jones wanted to be a part of, she said the community was always there to make sure she got the best.
“When I had opportunities, there were community members who stepped in to ensure that I could go to the camps, that I could participate in 4-H, that I could have the experiences that just further developed my learning,” Jones said.
After leaving Ardmore for the University of Oklahoma where she majored in journalism, Jones stayed busy participating in various campus organizations.
“I was heavily involved in campus life just with different clubs,” Jones said. “I was a student ambassador under President Boren, so we got to host foreign policy conferences, round tables, and all sorts of activities with dignitaries.”
Today she is still very much a part of campus life, but now she is doing it professionally at Langston University. Her position requires that she wear many hats, but one of her favorite aspects of her career is working as Executive Director of the Langston University Foundation. Any financial gifts the university receives go through the foundation and serve to benefit the university.
These funds are then used for things like scholarships and to allow students to travel to make national presentations and participate in various competitions across the country.
“Part of my life’s mission is to help make somebody else’s life better, especially given my humble upbringings,” Jones said.”I understand all too well the realities that people in underserved communities face because that was my life, and what better perspective to have than having been there.”
In addition to helping others, Jones and her husband, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard M. Jones, strive to act as positive role models for their three children, two sons and a daughter.
“They see their mom and dad and what we do in our capacity, and they are so proud,” Jones said. “I just really want them when they look back (as adults) to say my mom did everything she could do to be of service.”