Insights and Impact

10,000 Hours: A Young Man With a Plan


Deon Jones

Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success offers a formula for success—being born at the right place and time and investing at least 10,000 hours in pursuit of your goal. It's about being focused and impassioned and pursuing a dream. Meet one of AU's outliers: Harry S. Truman Scholar Deon Jones, SPA/BA '14.

1991: Born in Biloxi, Mississippi.

2000: Controversial presidential election piqued his interest. "I started paying attention to politics."

2002: Started watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah "helped me reject the notion that I couldn't become something."

Moved to Atlanta because his mother was running from an abusive husband. Grew up poor. "I knew there was something greater in store for my life." 

2006: Traversed Georgia, speaking as part of the Future Business Leaders of America. "In church people praised my singing and speaking. I enjoyed that attention. I came from a home where I didn't always get pats on the back."

2009: Served as director of student affairs for Atlanta City Councilman Scott Vaughan. Helped increase number of registered young voters by 30 percent.

Elected high school class president. Was his high school mascot, the Creekside "Seminole."

2010: Enrolled in AU sight unseen after a chance encounter with a university recruiter in an Atlanta hotel lobby. "I'd never even been above the Mason-Dixon Line."

Won a seat on the D.C. Neighborhood Advisory Commission at age 19, becoming the youngest elected official in Washington history. "The first person I voted for was myself." 

Interned for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

2011: Interned for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

2012: Interned for the Campaign for Youth Justice, which advocates against incarcerating youth in adult prisons. Traveled the country as a national spokesman.

Became a White House intern. Worked in the vice president's correspondence office for 40 hours a week; attended classes at night. Met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. 

Started MANifest Leadership Institute, a mentorship program for young men released from the D.C. juvenile detention center.

Began application process for the Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study leading to careers in government or nonprofits. Spent "countless hours" on the application with Paula Warrick, AU's Office of Merit Awards director. 

2013: Studied abroad at King's College in London, where he ran into Biden at an embassy event. "He recognized me and said, 'Hey, what are you doing here?'"

Named one of 62 Truman Scholars, becoming the first African American winner in AU history.

2014: Will become the first man in his family to graduate from college. Has sights set on law school.