Empowering Through Education

Giavana Jones

Dr. Giavana Bain Jones '02 has always been an advocate for the underdogs, so it was no surprise that her career path led her to facilitate access to educational opportunities for deserving students without the means or support to pursue tertiary education on their own. After a robust career in advocating for youth, Giavana was named Program Director of Scholarships at the Lyford Cay Foundation. "Education has been the vehicle to get me to my dreams. Because of this, I am a strong advocate for education as one integral avenue to help people overcome generational and systemic challenges that tend to fuel cycles of poverty and hopelessness," affirms Giavana.

Giavana came to Saint Ben's in junior standing after completing her first two years at CSB/SJU's campus in the Bahamas, her home country. Through a scholarship, she was able to come to Minnesota to complete her junior and senior years. Saint Ben's is where her passion for psychology blossomed. The fall after graduation, Giavana continued on her path of higher education and began graduate school in Florida. She received her master's degree in counseling and began her journey working with youth with academic and behavioral challenges in high schools. But it wasn't long before she got the itch to go back to school for the doctoral degree she had always dreamed of attaining. Giavana switched her focus to social/community psychology and graduated with another master's degree and a doctoral degree.

Her extensive educational background, passion for serving and extraordinary work ethic have all paved the way for her current position as Program Director of Scholarships at the Lyford Cay Foundation; a non-profit organization dedicated to investing in learning opportunities for Bahamian children, young adults, families and communities. In this position, Giavana manages the scholarship and grants programs. To date, the foundation has donated more than $25 million in scholarships to 2,500 Bahamians, and has awarded more than $17 million in grants to Bahamian non-profit organizations. Giavana is also responsible for maintaining relationships between scholars and grantees, and evaluating current programs.

"Many Bahamians lack the finances to pursue tertiary education abroad. Scholarships make these opportunities accessible," explains Giavana. "Without the scholarship I received from CSB, I would not have been able to complete my undergraduate studies in Minnesota. The scholarships provided through the Foundation have become a way that students' dreams have been realized, especially in families where tertiary education may not have been a focus or goal."

While Giavana sets an exquisite example of educational excellence for her scholarship recipients, she also emphasizes the importance of keeping the Benedictine values at the forefront of people's (especially young Bennies) ambitions. "There are some hallmarks of the Benedictine tradition that hold true across cultures and generations: love, service, humility and community to name a few. We are blessed to be exposed to these through our experiences at CSB and I think we are better professionals, in fact, better humans, when we find how we can make these principles a part of our personal and professional interactions."