Second time is a charm for Sierra commencement speaker |

Second time is a charm for Sierra commencement speaker

Terence K. McAteer
Special to The Union
Chris Jones has returned to Nevada County and will give the Sierra College commencement address on Thursday.
Submitted photo

Chris Jones, 52, was headed for a career as a English teacher when a modeling agent thought otherwise and sent him to Munich, Germany to be discovered.

Thirty-two years later Jones is back on track at Sierra College, as the Nevada County resident will give the college commencement address on Thursday.

His address will focus on finishing a commitment which many make to themselves. In the case of Jones, he is finishing Sierra College with a 3.6 GPA. He’s headed to Sonoma State in the fall to pursue a degree in creative writing and then enter the teaching profession — possibly returning to Sierra College to teach writing.

“It’s been a long road,” said Jones who in his early 20’s headed to Munich and then Milan, Italy, after shooting a Beck’s Beer commercial which put enough money in his pocket to continue his modeling career. For the next four years, Jones traveled throughout Europe pursuing modeling until he yearned for a return to his native California.

Upon returning, Chris continued modeling, acting in community theatre and independent films but his quest to finish college still nagged him.

“My dad is a contractor and I just couldn’t see myself doing that,” said Jones who married his longtime sweetheart, Melissa, and moved to Nevada County for its high quality of life.

“I went up to Sierra College to meet with a school counselor,” said Jones, who learned what previous college credits were transferable and what his path toward a degree would look like.

“From the beginning, the Sierra College staff was extremely helpful and … laid out a plan,” said Jones. The college arranged some student financing so he could work part-time and also afford to attend school.

Jones started in the summer of 2017 and “kept my nose to the grindstone,” taking around six units per semester. He will enter Sonoma State as a junior and hopes to complete his bachelor’s degree in a few years.

“We have this little jewel in our community,” Jones notes of Sierra College’s Nevada County campus.

Terry McAteer is the former Nevada County Superintendent of Schools and a current member of The Union’s Editorial Board.

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