William Dorsey Jones Jr. earned his UofL degree while working as a Los Angeles police officer.
William Dorsey Jones Jr. earned his UofL degree while working as a Los Angeles police officer.

Before he had the chance to finish his degree at UofL, Louisville native William Dorsey Jones Jr. moved to Los Angeles in the spring of 2006 to pursue a career in entertainment. While he was out there, he found another passion – service.

That led him to join the Los Angeles Police Department. He spent eight years on patrol and the past three years working as a community relations officer within the department – the third largest in the U.S

William Dorsey Jones Jr.
William Dorsey Jones Jr.

Jones eventually returned to UofL to finish his studies online, and will graduate Dec. 12 with a degree in communications. He acknowledges the challenges along the way, especially those encompassing this year such as serving as a police officer during the social justice movement and presidential election.

“Being an African American police officer and from Louisville has given me a very unique perspective,” he said.

He also said focusing on school has been hard during the pandemic, noting that time management has been particularly been hard to achieve. However, for Jones, time management could be a challenge in normal circumstances.

Not only does he work as a police officer, he also has a family, including a wife who has been working from home during the pandemic, and a 6-year-old son who has been learning from home. As though his plate isn’t full enough, Jones also started a nonprofit organization, called “Officers for Change,” in August. The objective is to mentor at-risk youth in low-income communities and “positively affect my community,” he said.

Through it all, earning his degree is what kept him going.

“Knowing all the hard work and sacrifice that has gone into this drives me,” Jones said. “During the current social climate, I realize the opportunities that I, and all others have living here in the United States, have been blessed with. The access to education is a luxury that others around the globe don’t have and many of us minorities don’t take advantage of.”

Despite now living over 2,000 miles away, Jones was determined to get his degree from UofL and nowhere else. In fact, moving to Los Angeles only amplified his passion for the university and the city.

“Growing up in the west end of Louisville poor, UofL is what brought our family and community together. My mother and (late) father were and are die-hard Cardinal fans and growing up, I’ve always been a huge Cardinal fan,” he said.

In fact, his mother worked multiple jobs while Jones was growing up – ensuring the family had food to eat and a roof over their heads. In her 40s, she returned to UofL and completed her bachelor’s of science degree, ranked first in her class, Jones says.

“Thinking about my mom and dad gets me a little emotional. My mom tells me how proud my dad would have been and that he’s in heaven with his Ls up,” Jones said.

Jones plans to leverage his new degree by working his way up the ranks in the LAPD and he plans to expand his nonprofit organization as well. He has also considered a career with a federal agency, like the FBI or DEA, and has even considered moving back to Louisville.

“Being able to finally call myself an alum brings me an overwhelming feeling of pride and joy,” he said. “UofL and the city of Louisville are in my DNA. Just seeing the red and black and the Cardinal logo and knowing I’m a part of that puts the biggest smile on my face.”