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Ones to Watch

Toya Jones

Toya Jones in a burgundy top
  • Health and Wellness
  • Community Impact

Studying trauma and its impact.

Toya Jones has known her purpose in life since she was 11 years old.

One day while at school, she walked into the bathroom and unexpectedly discovered a classmate committing an act of self-harm. Jones wasn’t scared and didn’t panic. She walked over to the young lady and asked how she could help. They talked. Jones listened. And the girl was eventually able to receive the support she needed.

“I remember talking to her and hearing her pain, and I decided to help her,” recalls Jones. It was clear to Jones from that moment on that helping people was what she was supposed to do with her life.

Today, Jones is a licensed therapist, an expert witness for the federal courts, director Pitt’s Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) program and an instructor of social work—not to mention a respected author on trauma and its impact. Recently, she completed her EdD in Pitt’s School of Education, and she holds a master’s degree in social work from Pitt as well.

Jones, a Pittsburgh native, cites the University’s stellar reputation as a key factor in her decision to further her education in her hometown in addition to the high-ranking programs offered by the School of Social Work. The courses offered her a direct practice track, meaning her course work could be applied to the required working hours for therapists in the field. This also meant a more targeted path to her goal of helping those in need.

According to Jones, “The School of Social Work helped me become who I was going to be.”

As BASW program director, Jones regularly directs her students and prospective students to the many opportunities available to them through the school. She often touts the value of her education and how the program is even better than when she started.

As a professor, she gives her students just what she gives her clients and what she gave her middle school classmate: her full attention and her commitment to help. It is her goal for her students to reach their fullest potential at whatever level of social work experience and knowledge they seek, because she knows firsthand how her Pitt education has laid the groundwork for her success.