Maintaining good grades can be challenging, even more so if extra-curricular activities are involved. But Donna High School graduating senior Forrest Jones found a way to excel.

Jones accomplished excellence by being named DHS salutatorian for the class of 2017. He believes his upbringing helped him achieve success. “Since I was little, discipline and respect have always been big in my family,” Jones said. “Going to church was also a big part of what we did on a weekly basis, so my faith and morals were really important in my upbringing. They went hand in hand with my outlook on life. They pushed me forward through my studies and sports.”

Jones admits that being involved in sports added a great deal of stress on his academics. But he would not have had it any other way. He learned to adjust when the football and baseball seasons were underway.

“My junior and senior year were really difficult for me and my friends,” Jones said. “We’d stay up until 3 a.m. sometimes to finish a project and we’d have practice the next morning. We’d wake up at 6 and get ready so there was a lot of lack of sleep during the sports seasons. But we didn’t let it affect us too much because we needed to get things done. If anything, we learned a lot of life lessons like diligence, time management and how to focus. I think that sports were very important in me becoming who I am.”

DSC_0208He credits his parents for playing a big part in his success. “They always asked if I needed help so I always knew that I had somebody there,” Jones said. “They also expected a lot so I expected a lot from myself. They pushed and guided me through the obstacles. They raised me with a good foundation to get to where I am now.”

While playing sports, Jones fractured his arm. He said it was that injury that convinced him to seek a career in the medical field. He plans to major in biology and go to medical school to study orthopedics. “It’s funny that something like breaking my arm let me know that’s what I want to do,” Jones said. “I was impressed with my doctor. I saw how he interacted with me and other people. I thought that I would want to help athletes and people with injuries like mine. That seemed like something I’d want to do.”

Jones is thankful to God for helping him get to where he is today. He said it has been fun but reaching salutatorian status was not the most important to him during high school.

“I had a lot of character building experiences throughout high school and I met a lot of new people,” Jones said. “The things that I was involved in were probably the most important to me because they taught me life lessons like when our coach, Jason Garcia died. Things like the coaches talking to us after finishing football practice and helping friends and them helping me. So, being salutatorian and in the spotlight is fun and well worth all the work. But I can’t say that it was the most important to me during high school. It was everything that happened behind the scenes that helped me grow as a person and contribute to my success socially and academically.”

He hopes to inspire students who come behind him. He offered words of advice. “First and foremost, you can’t quit. I know a lot of people who stay up until 1 a.m. and that’s it. They turn off the lights and don’t finish the project and don’t do as well. But if there’s a will there’s a way. That’s what I always believe. All you have to do is want to be there and you can do it. Anyone can do it. Intelligence won’t carry you as far as your hard work will.”