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ODU Graduate Toykea Jones Tapped as Speaker for University Scholars Day

feature3Toykea Jones

Admitted Old Dominion University freshmen identified as academic achievers will visit the campus Saturday, Feb. 22, for University Scholars Day, and hear words of inspiration from a woman who was in their shoes just 15 years ago.

Toykea Jones earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from ODU in 2003 (B.S. in chemistry) and 2005 (M.S. in environmental engineering), after turning down many other schools to come here. Her career has taken off in the decade since.

A global supply chain manager with Johnson & Johnson, the multinational pharmaceutical and consumer goods giant, Jones will speak to incoming academic stars about setting goals and achieving them, as the luncheon speaker for University Scholars Day.

University Scholars Day is an invitation-only event for admitted freshmen who have been recognized as high academic achievers among freshman class applicants.

The special day is ODU's way of celebrating the academic accomplishments of young scholars who are considering the university as their institution of choice. Scholars and their families attending this event are able to meet members of ODU's nationally renowned and award-winning faculty, explore potential undergraduate research opportunities, interact with staff and alumni, and gain a tangible understanding of what makes the ODU experience unique.

This year, approximately 450 scholars and their guests from Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia will attend.

A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Jones earned scholarships to pay for her undergraduate studies at ODU - including the 2004-05 Hampton Roads Sanitation District Scholarship - then took out student loans to pay for her master's program in environmental engineering.

Landing a great job at Johnson & Johnson right out of ODU, Jones, 33, is now a global supply chain manager, traveling the world on the company's behalf to streamline processes and maximize efficiency. Last year, she visited nine countries in Europe and Asia.

In 2010, with a $25,000 endowment, she established the Toykea S. Jones Endowed Scholarship in Engineering at ODU. It awards $1,000 every year to a qualifying engineering sophomore. The recipient must be a Norfolk high school graduate, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be able to demonstrate financial need.

In 2012, Jones started the Toykea S. Jones Foundation, awarding a $1,000 scholarship annually to a graduating senior from a Norfolk high school who plans to major in engineering at a Virginia university or college.

And last month, Jones endowed a second $25,000 scholarship at her alma mater - the Toykea S. Jones Endowed Scholarship in Maritime and Supply Chain Management - also for qualified sophomores.

Jones was invited by Dean Oktay Baysal to serve on the board of directors of ODU's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, because of the success she has had in her career and her willingness to give back and mentor.

"It's such an honor and it's very humbling being in the company of so many successful people," Jones told The Virginian-Pilot. "We're shaping the university and putting programs in place for future leaders."

Jones said she is honored to have been chosen as the speaker for University Scholars Day.

"I feel like I'm helping shape the future of Johnson & Johnson with potential talent from ODU. My message is: 'You don't have to follow my steps directly, but be the best that you can be.'"

For more information about the Toykea S. Jones Foundation or to apply for a scholarship, visit www.toykeajonesfoundation.com.