Tre Jones thankful for opportunities at MSU Texas through Priddy Scholars Program

Story Andy Newberry
4 min read

Tre Jones had one vision about how life as a Midwestern State University student would go.

He knew the area, having grown up in Electra. He knew about small college life after two years at Vernon College. He was coming to MSU Texas to get a degree. And he’d drive back and forth every day to Wichita Falls and find part-time work.

The Priddy Scholars Program changed the plan for Jones and kept him on campus through his graduation in December 2019. MSU Texas created the program, with the generous support of The Priddy Foundation, in hopes of it being a transformational program for students who aspire to be the first in their families to complete a college education.

Jones saw many of his childhood friends have to give up on that dream to start work.

“It honestly took away all the financial burden that college students have to worry about once I found out that all my tuition and fees were taken care of,” Jones said. “Not having to worry about anything except my school work, it allowed me to get to know my professors more. I wrote for the Wichitan (the school’s newspaper) for one semester and it made me realize I was good at writing. I could go into something like that one day.”

He also discovered life on campus, many new friends and downtown Wichita Falls, a place he really knew nothing about despite growing up just 25 miles away. His final discovery came on graduation day. He was the President’s Medal of Excellence recipient, one that is awarded to the highest grade-point average of each of the six colleges. Jones graduated summa cum laude from the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts.

“That was a pleasant surprise,” Jones said. “I didn’t even realize I had won, and that it would be announced at graduation. I had my friends and family there. Even if I didn’t have that scholarship, I had so many expectations for myself. Getting one B in a class killed me.”


Actually, one B just spurred Jones on to an A-plus effort with a big assist from the Priddy Scholars program and director Cammie Dean.

The early results of the Priddy Scholarship are promising. Students in the program complete an average of 14 hours per semester with a GPA of 3.3, nearly a half-point better than the average population. Four students from the program graduated in May 2019 and three in December 2019, including Jones. Kylie Brinson graduated from the program in May 2020 and is attending physical therapy school at Texas Woman’s University. Students spent 117 hours on average participating in workshops, student organization, leadership positions, service projects and undergraduate research during the Fall 2019 semester. The program has increased both community involvement and academic performance.

Jones was thankful for his opportunity. “It was pretty easy, (meeting program requirements), as long as you do your work. We would also meet with Cammie twice a semester, and I really enjoyed that. She’s easy to talk to and would talk about what’s going on in your life. A lot of us became friends, especially that first-year group when we all lived on the same floor at Trigg.”

Jones hopes to turn his education into a job in the field very soon, while taking on the challenge of raising his son, Jakobe, and daughter, Kendall, with his girlfriend, Hannah Dunham. His son was named for one of his sports heroes, Kobe Bryant. An all-too-real reminder about how plans can change hit Jones again when Bryant passed away in January in a helicopter crash. Jones, who works at State Farm, appeared on a KFDX sports program to add perspective to the event.

He's tried to convey a broad perspective in his work, too, from a senior documentary on undocumented individuals in Wichita Falls to an appreciation for what his hometown of Electra once was and could attain in the future.

“I took the lead on the documentary – I love to tell stories – and doing that made me realize I wanted to produce rather than being in front of the camera,” Jones said. “I have my own YouTube channel and made two or three short documentaries about Electra. It’s a historical town and if you dig deep, it’s interesting. I like this area, but also might have to go to a bigger market for a while.”

But Jones is a college graduate from Electra, Texas. He had a big time making friends from Chicago, Idaho, Oklahoma, and across the world, those from small communities like his or big cities. And he’s thankful for the opportunities the program gave him to pave his own path forward.