A Leap of Faith: MLS student speaker will honor classmates, program at pinning

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

From first-generation college student to an exploratory major, then to Human Health Sciences and Medical Laboratory Science, Anyia Jones found her way through college with the help of her professors and classmates.

And now she will be a featured speaker Thursday when she and more than 30 of her classmates are honored at the College of Health Sciences’ MLS Pinning Ceremony & Reception.

“The University of Kentucky has always been my dream school,” says the 21-year-old from Fulton, Ky. “It is the best school in Kentucky, and it gave me distance from my hometown and a place to grow. I went to college with only myself — I didn’t know anyone there and I took a leap of faith. I had the chance to find myself and discover who I am as a person.”

Jones, who serves as vice president of the Black Student Union and as a resident advisor, credits her professors and classmates with helping shape her future.

Here’s six questions with Anyia Jones:

Why did you choose MLS?

I was originally an exploratory student then transitioned to Human Health Science; I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in healthcare. I was a part of the STEMCats program, and we had the wonderful opportunity to assist a healthcare faculty member with undergraduate research. My research team dealt with cancer cells and various medications, then we observed the decline of the cell replication after administering the medication. I absolutely loved the experience, and I knew I loved the lab from there on out. In the same semester I met Mr. Chad Guilliams, M.Ed, MLS, (ASCP) CM, while attending an introductory class for HHS. Mr. Guilliams spoke about pursing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science and how rigorous the program is. I spoke to him after the class, received his contact information, and decided to pursue the challenge! It was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

What will you be talking about in your speech?

I will be recognizing the accomplishments of my classmates and providing quotes that helped me prevail through the challenges of the program. I will be congratulating my classmates and emphasizing how proud I am of them and their accomplishments. I will be briefly addressing my struggles during my college career.

What will this pinning mean to you?

The pinning ceremony is a symbol of preservation and determination for me. I am from a very rural area and graduated with 18 people with only four of us going to college. I am a first-generation student, and I didn’t let that stop me from following my dreams of pursing a career into the medical field. The pinning ceremony means a lot to me, and I am honored to share that experience with my family and friends.

Were there any people or classes that stood out to you?

The classes that stood out to me most were microbiology and blood bank. Microbiology and blood bank were very intense, but I learned so much! Once everything clicked, I felt so accomplished. The beauty of taking on a challenge that others say is difficult, is winning that battle and being able to apply what you learned.

I met my birthday twin and best friend my freshman year of college as well — his name is Ti’Jara Hunt. He has shown me the importance of having a best friend especially in college. We’ve traveled to Hawaii together and I know he’ll be in my life after college as well. The people who stood by my side and helped me grow were Lily Jones, Erica Campbell, and Lana Heslop. I knew these ladies prior to starting the program. We took a lot of our prerequisites together and it was such a beautiful moment when we all were accepted into the program. They have been such a big part of my college experience. We all support each other, and our friendship is something I am truly grateful for. I expect nothing but greatness from these ladies.

What will you be doing in the future and how did this experience help you?

I plan to become a traveling medical technician within two years. My future aspirations are to further my education and obtain a master’s degree. I have a passion for healthcare research and that is what I see myself doing once I’m ready to settle down.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing something similar here at UK? What’s your pitch?

I would say just go for it! You are your biggest steppingstone. Overcome your fears and self-doubt. You may feel discouraged, but just push yourself even harder. If this is what you want, fight for it.