Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, United States Army Reserve commanding general, recently stated in a letter about Family Appreciation Month that “over the past 15 years, our Families have demonstrated relentless patriotism in some of the most challenging circumstances in our recent past.”
Felicia Jones is no exception.
On first impression, she is shy, quiet, and demure. Her mannerisms and reserved smile make it obvious that she does not like to bring attention to herself. But don’t let that quiet exterior fool you. Felicia is intelligent, competitive, caring, and recently graduated with a 4.58 Grade Point Average from Annie Wright Upper School in Tacoma, Washington, with a Bi-Lingual International Baccalaureate diploma.
A 4.58 grade point average is an impressive achievement, especially when you take into account the specialized International Baccalaureate program and all it entails. The program focuses on the entire student rather than on teaching only traditional subjects. There are “Areas of Knowledge” including Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, Arts, Mathematics, Ethics, and History that students must master.
Diploma students must pass Theory of Knowledge, a subject that is centered on four different ways of knowing. These are sense perception, reasoning, language, and emotion. In addition, students must show that they have met eight pre-set outcomes that involve creativity, action, and service. Some of these elements of the curriculum, such as sense perception, emotion, and service are not a part of most other curriculums in various educational programs.
Among her many achievements, Felicia has also earned the N1 level award for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, which is a test for non-native speakers of Japanese. In 2015, over 600,000 people took the test in 69 countries and areas worldwide. There are five levels awarded, with N1 being the highest level of certification.
Felicia is the daughter of Sgt. William ‘Q’ Jones assigned to the Army Reserve 4-414th SROTC as a TPU Soldier and the Military Technician IT Specialist for the 104th Training Division (LT).
‘Q’ is very proud of his daughter’s accomplishments and says “she’s faced adversity, having moved all over, including to Japan and Korea. She’s handled it very well while maintaining her standards.”
Felicia is not your average teenager. Born in Hawaii, she is a mix of Asian, African-American, Native American, Hawaiian and Caucasian. At the age of 7, she moved to Japan for 3 years with her mother while her father was stationed in Germany.
While in Japan, Felicia attended a local Japanese school in Tokyo and the family only spoke Japanese. This posed a communication barrier when her father returned from Germany, as Felicia says, “I couldn’t understand what my dad was saying. I needed my mom between me and my dad as a translator.”
Seant’e and Felica Graduation Day
The language barrier was more than just a challenge at home. When the family transferred to South Korea, Felicia attended English speaking schools for the first time through the Department of Defense. Her accent and her difficulty with the English language kept her from making many friends but it didn’t deter her from enjoying herself like any other young girl.
Her hobbies include comedy shows (both in English and Japanese), food, karaoke, window shopping and she admits she truly enjoys people watching. She also enjoys playing volleyball and basketball but “not for fun, but seriously.” In the words of someone who has seen her on the volleyball court, she is “ferociously competitive.”
As a military child, the frequent moves, living overseas, and changing schools made childhood difficult, however, it hasn’t stopped Felicia from achieving great things. During high school, she volunteered more than 270 hours with various organizations including the Army Reserve Teen Council, American Red Cross, and Annie’s Angles at Annie Wright Upper School and played both basketball and volleyball.
When asked why she volunteered so much of her time, Felicia answered, “I felt that if I had spare time to play games and watch television, it’s better to give my time to the community to make someone else’s time happy or make them feel better even for a little while.”
Bob Neuharth, from the Point of Care Testing Lab at Madigan Army Medical Center where Felicia volunteered through the American Red Cross, describes her as “Very shy but energetic and enthusiastic about helping out. Once she opens up, she is fun to talk to. She is very smart and focused. She has a bright future.”
All that hard work has paid off for Felicia. She was accepted into the University of Rochester in New York and recently began her freshman year at the University. She plans to major in Microbiology and Japanese.
Already in her first semester of college, Felicia has become involved in Air Force ROTC, the volleyball club, and is studying Kendo, a form of martial arts. She is looking forward to tryouts for the university volleyball team in spring.
When asked if she had advice for others she said “have relationships inside and outside your school, community, and anywhere else you can think of. You never know what will come to you and when it does come to you, make use of it.”
While outwardly shy, she’s determined to excel.
“My family and the people who looked down on me or said I couldn’t do it had the biggest influence on me. I have to thank my family for supporting, encouraging, and pushing me to this day,” she said.
“There were and will be people who will look down on me, but I will use that to my advantage saying, ‘watch me, I’ll prove you wrong!”