Louis Basso remembers walking into a crowded cafeteria at the age of 18. Guest speakers were lined up to offer inspiration to the new Ship students. He recalls standing in line to get his name tag, and being struck by a lady who was up front.

Dr. Elnetta G. Jones was shaking hands. She smiled and made eye contact with every student. Basso could tell right away that this person was special. Her charisma was amazing as she greeted people. She lit up the room. Basso said, “She really had an aura about her. I knew from our first energy exchange, that she was a positive and welcoming person.”

Since that first morning at orientation, Dr. Jones never forgot Basso’s name. In fact, she remembered everyone’s name. Dr. Jones was an advocate for all – a true “change maker” (a term she used often). She provided leadership and direction for Ship’s ACT 101 Program to assist under-prepared students in transitioning to college. She worked on behalf of students who needed extra assistance and encouragement to maintain the grades necessary for academic success and graduation. And she championed diversity, equity and inclusion.

Basso remembered in his second year when Dr. Jones stopped him and told him she’d like to talk. He followed her into her office and she said, “I’ve been hearing about you Mr. Basso. You have a special gift that you don’t even realize. You have a natural leadership quality, and you have to use your gift for a better purpose.”

According to Basso, she taught students the meaning behind discipline, delayed gratification, the importance of character and purpose, and “adulting.” At a time when Basso had very little hope in life, his time at Ship helped him break unhealthy cycles, and he reversed the course of his life.

Basso and his sister celebrate graduation

“Ship saw in me potential for greater things. My career has been wonderful has a result of what I was given at Ship. The first golden link to my success is Dr. Elnetta Jones. She made us realize that it’s up to us! She’s such a shining example of possibilities that the American dream is possible and achievable if you work for it,” he said.

Thousands of students benefited from her direct intervention and mentoring. Most of the programs she helped establish are still in existence today. In recognition of her significant contributions to Shippensburg University, the Dr. Elnetta G. Jones Scholarship was established in 1989. Her legacy also continues through the Elnetta G. Jones University Center for Student Success and Exploratory Studies.

Today, Dr. Louis Basso is a clinical invasive cardiologist living and working in Maine.

“I am here in the present, 2022, to extend my sincere gratitude to Elnetta for her life given to a greater purpose. I can think of no greater purpose than providing hope and education to all.”

Interested in giving to the Elnetta G. Jones Scholarship? Give here.