Navy veteran found success in the visual arts at Cal State LA
By Madeline Tondi
Cal State LA News Service
Tai-lynia Jones bought her first camera before her final deployment aboard the USS Chancellorsville. The photos she took aboard the guided-missile cruiser sparked an interest in the visual arts that led Jones to California State University, Los Angeles.
In May, Jones will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Television, Film and Media Studies. In the fall, she plans to return to Cal State LA to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Television, Film and Theatre.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Jones will be the first of her eight siblings to receive a bachelor’s degree. She enlisted in the United States Navy right after high school as a path to higher education. She was first stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as a dock master pier crewman. Jones says her time in the Navy was “a life changing experience.”
“If it wasn’t for me serving in the military and being able to go to school and have school and my housing paid for, I wouldn’t be here [at Cal State LA] right now,” the 30-year-old Jones says.
Jones was later sent to San Diego, serving three deployments as an operations specialist on the USS Chancellorsville (CG-62). She was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for her performance as the Global Command Control Systems Maritime Operator on the vessel.
After serving seven years of active duty in the Navy, Jones attended several community colleges in San Diego studying communication and photography before moving to Los Angeles. Jones always knew she was interested in photography from watching her father handle his old film cameras when she was young. Jones credits the discipline she gained in the military as leading to her success, as well as the work ethic instilled in her from her family.
“We were never people who just sat around, we’re busybodies,” Jones says. “I come from a family of workers.”
At Cal State LA, she works at the Veterans Resource Center. She is also an intern at Abelcine, a camera rental store where she learns about the latest in film camera technology and networks with industry professionals.
She is also working with a production company known as the Hollywood Guerilla film group, a job that allows her to practice her craft. Jones compares the camaraderie that she feels with her company on late night shoots to the way she felt in the military.
“It’s hard work, but you’re working with people with good attitudes and we’re all in it together,” Jones says. “We all have the same passion to make something.”