Cynthia Jones-Hundley '84/EG
As the daughter of an architect and the granddaughter of an MIT-educated chemist/pharmacist, Cynthia Jones-Hundley had always been prepared for a future career in engineering. When the time came, she applied and was accepted to many colleges and universities with competitive engineering programs. The Somerset, New Jersey native proudly committed to the University of Delaware’s highly-rated chemical engineering department.
“UD was a good choice for a Jersey girl,” Cynthia stated. “It was a nice campus, compact, easy to navigate, and the chemical engineering program had the DuPont connection. Easy enough decision.”
However, after slogging through a laborious six-hour chemical lab course in a dank sub-basement, she realized that perhaps chemical engineering was not right for her. Cynthia then knew she needed to pursue a different path and, at her electrical engineer brother’s suggestion, she changed her major to electrical engineering.
As one of the very first and few African-American women to enroll in the engineering program, Cynthia faced challenges in and out of the classroom - both as a person of color and as a woman. The encouragement of fellow engineering students such as Levi Thompson (now dean of UD’s School of Engineering) and supportive faculty members including Kenneth Lutz and the late Pete Warter helped to keep her going.
Upon graduation, Cynthia became the first African-American woman to work in electric field engineering construction and operations at Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG). After earning an MBA from Rutgers, she moved into corporate strategy. Her hands-on experience in field operations paired with the MBA created an attractive combination for employers and clients, particularly as it related to her eventual work with industry deregulation.
A stint with Accenture Strategy Consulting’s corporate utility practice, executive positions with several electric and gas utilities, and alternative energy solutions moved her around the country before Cynthia returned to New Jersey as director of strategy for what became National Grid.
She retired from the corporate world and now consults in the areas of big data and artificial intelligence in the utility industry. She is also active with her son’s school and volunteers on the technology and economic development committees for her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.
It was actually a call to action from her sorority that sparked Cynthia’s interest in re-engaging with her alma mater. During a recent “I Heart UD Day”, a one-day fundraising and Blue Hen participation challenge, alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta’s Mu Pi chapter rallied support to endow its newly-created African Violet Scholarship. This endowed scholarship will be awarded to a student from an underrepresented group who exhibits commitment to scholarship, service, and leadership.
“Giving helped to renew my relationship in a different way – as a responsible person who wants to ensure that other students can enjoy the University of Delaware,” Cynthia said. “If you truly want to help people like yourself – help the young people pursuing their academic dreams.”
Cynthia, who is remembering the University of Delaware in her will through a percentage of her remaining estate, shared this advice: “If you’re not giving in the present, giving in the future assures you that you’ve left a meaningful impact for others. Direct your remaining resources to something that matters. A bequest is really easy. Just leave a note in your will and look at it as writing a check for the future.”