2015 Named Scholarship Recipient


Jones LeFae, 46 year-old single mother of two boys and graduate student at the University of Colorado – Denver, is especially grateful to receive the Alice DeBoer Named Scholarship for 2015. This award, as well as a previous scholarship award from the Colorado Women’s Education Foundation (CWEF), has helped Jones immensely with the financial challenges of obtaining a higher education. Jones has struggled financially for many years putting herself through college while raising two boys on her own and working up to as many as three part-time jobs at the same time. She sees the end reward, however, as worth every bit of the struggle, especially with the support of women such as Marion MacDonald, the funder of the Alice DeBoer Named Scholarship, and the many amazing women at CWEF. Jones states, “The financial support is great, but knowing that I have the moral support of all these successful women behind me is really what gets me through the day.”

Jones is studying anthropology, with archaeology as a sub-discipline, as well as museum studies. Her hope is to become a curator or collections manager for a museum such as the Denver Nature and Science Museum (DMNS). She shares, “DMNS has a great anthropology department that is very concerned about the ethics of collecting. They are currently working very hard to ensure compliance with the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 regulations by repatriating human remains and objects associated with Native American groups. My goal is in line with theirs in that I want to protect the heritage of cultural groups and make sure they are represented in an engaging and respectful manner.” Jones sees her research work in Mexico as an important part of preserving and understanding what has been a largely ignored area of Mexico. “When I share that I study Mesoamerican cultures, most people think of the Maya or the Aztec. In West Mexico there is a very fascinating archaeological history that most people just don’t know about and it also happens to be the area that my own ancestors are from, which makes it even more important to me.”

Jones’ grandparents came from Mexico in the early part of the 20th century to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolutionary War. They worked as fruit pickers in the San Joaquin Valley of California where Jones was born. Jones’ grandmother had no more than a third grade education, but her father was the first in the family to receive a Master’s Degree. He always expected Jones to earn a college degree, but her life-path took her elsewhere until later in her life. Jones shares, “After my divorce, I realized that I needed a better education in order to get the kind of job that would allow me to support my family. It has been a struggle but my being in school and folloing my passions have really inspired my children to do well in school, so that they can follow their dreams too. My oldest son has always wanted to be a veterinarian and he is now attending Colorado State University, which is the third top vet school in the country.”

As Mrs. DeBoer said, “Think big and go for it.” Jones feels, “When women are educated, it makes the world a better place for all of us. I want to continue Mrs. DeBoer’s legacy by inspiring other women to continue their education, no matter what age.”