2024 Alfred J. Crabaugh Award: Braden Jones


Braden Jones decided four years ago to move from the southeast Arkansas home he loves to attend Arkansas Tech University.
As he prepares to graduate from ATU, Jones now considers Arkansas Tech his second home.
“I think we have one of the greatest campuses in the state,” said Jones. “It’s beautiful. It’s big enough that you don’t know everyone, but you have the opportunity to meet everyone if you want. You can create your own path at Arkansas Tech. If I need anything from my professors, I call them. They’re going to answer and help me the best they can. There are just so many ways to get involved and so many things to do off campus, as well. Arkansas Tech does a great job of putting the student first. We have everything for everyone.”
Jones is the 2024 recipient of the Alfred J. Crabaugh Award as the most outstanding senior
male student at Arkansas Tech. He will be recognized during ATU’s spring commencement ceremonies at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, May 11.
“To me, it’s an honor I cannot describe,” said Jones when asked about the Crabaugh Award. “It shows that Arkansas Tech is inviting to everyone and anyone. We’re all here together. It shows that Arkansas Tech loves its students and that we’re a family. If it hadn’t been for my professors pushing me, looking out for me, and understanding what I could be, I wouldn’t be here. Looking back, I was just having fun. I didn’t really think about how influential it had been. I just felt like I was at home.”
Jones grew up in Warren playing football, basketball, baseball, and golf. Other pastimes included hunting or fishing with family.
“I even tried my hand at pole vault for a little bit,” said Jones.
As he prepared to graduate from Warren High School and take the next step in his educational journey, the community of Russellville helped sell him on Arkansas Tech.
“I chose to come to Tech because I loved the feel of Russellville,” said Jones. “Coming from a small town…Russellville is much larger than where I’m from, but it still has that small-town feel. Then I learned about all the opportunities outside the campus with the state parks, Lake Dardanelle, and a lot of wildlife management areas to hunt at. I knew a lot of people in south Arkansas, and I felt like it was time to go and meet new people.”

Jones and his roommate, fellow Warren High School graduate Kade Weaver, enrolled at Arkansas Tech in the fall of 2020 and Jones quickly found his place in the Bachelor of Arts degree program in journalism, focusing his studies on public relations.      
“I fell in love with the program,” said Jones. “I started taking classes with Dr. Hanna Norton,

Mr. Tommy Mumert, and Mrs. Megan Toland. Instantly, I was learning the Associated Press style, the rule of thirds, and multimedia practices. I was excited to get that insight so early in my college career, and I could tell they weren’t just teaching this stuff from a book. They had lived these experiences, and I knew one day I’d be able to use those experiences for my benefit.”
Jones began to see those benefits in action when he was selected for an internship with The Communications Group, a public relations firm in Little Rock. There, he designed and executed a public relations campaign and event that earned him a Prism Award from the Arkansas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
“It cemented that what I’ve learned at Arkansas Tech is what I need to know,” said Jones. “When I entered my internship, I was a little nervous about being in the real world. However, I found that everything transferred from what I was doing in school right into what I was doing in my internship. To see the hard work that I put in during my classes pay off in the real world showed me it was all worth it and that I had some great mentors. I can’t thank them enough for what I’ve learned (at ATU).”       
Jones has served as president of ATU’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, as a tour guide in the ATU Office of Admissions, and as a senator in ATU Student Government Association.
“I was always passionate about school,” said Jones. “My mom and grandmother understood the importance of education. They always told me academics come first, so I entered here with the same mindset. Winning is a mindset you can put into anything you do…in the classroom, athletically, and in relationships with your friends and family…so I wanted to continue that. At Tech, I grew personally and realized there’s more than just attending class and getting good grades. I continued to do that, but I got involved in other areas and felt more prepared. I have a better understanding of how to meet people, how to talk to them, how to work as a team and how to be a leader.”