By: Jillian Hough
Diana Jones is Graceland’s Director of the Intercultural Office, but she wears, and has worn, so many more hats. After graduating from Graceland College in 1987 with an Elementary Education major and Psychology minor, she traveled to Taiwan, to teach English and help the Community of Christ Church in Taipei. When Jones arrived back in the States two years later and experienced reverse culture shock, she says, “I was very numb, and so all the new internationals that were coming in, I really ended up connecting with because I was going through what they were in the opposite side.” After working as the Area Coordinator for the women’s halls, completing another degree in Art, and searching for jobs in D.C., Graceland’s Dean of Students, Tom Powell, asked her to come on as the Intercultural Director. What first started as a semester of helping out became a 32-year-long career at Graceland.
Jones comments on her role as director, “I see it almost as a missionary-type job. It’s a passion of mine, but I feel like it’s a calling, it’s almost a spiritual thing for me.” She also mentions that “I don’t think I’d want to do this job at any other school, so I’m willing to put in the time and commitment.” Her day to day work is very student focused. She helps them communicate with insurance companies, set up healthcare appointments, apply for social security cards, help with immigration papers, and communicate with students when tax season rolls around. She says, “I never thought I’d have to know how to do taxes because I pay somebody to do mine, but I’ve learned how to do it for non-residents of this country”. However, she explains that her main job is to be available for and visit with students, to help them with whatever they need. She also plays a big role in planning and executing some of the larger club and intercultural events, explaining that “no day is ever the same”.
Recently, Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was in remission until last April, when she had to start chemotherapy again. She is optimistic and isn’t scared about the uncertainty of what the future holds. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and she hopes that her story will inspire others get screened for colon cancer. She thanks Deb Skinner, Graceland’s Vice President of Enrollment, and her students for being able to work with them closely and looks forward to the future in Lamoni and in her crucial role at Graceland University.