Steve Jobs said, “You must be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong, that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”
Pine Bluff native Jeremy Ward has taken his ideas of leadership and knowledge of problems within the City of Pine Bluff to Washington, D.C., as a student at American University and an intern in Congressman Bruce Westerman’s office, where he’s learning how to right some of those wrongs.
Westerman represents the state’s Fourth District, which includes Pine Bluff.
Ward graduated from the Ridgeway Christian Academy in May 2018. He said it was during a trip to Washington for a program on national diplomacy, intelligence and defense that he fell in love with the idea of attending American University. Although he had made the decision to apply there, he was torn about what he wanted to study.
But one thing was clear: He wanted to help people.
“I was torn between science, political science and law, but ultimately I decided to go with political science and eventually law,” Ward said. “It just made perfect sense to do that in D.C., the political capital of our country.”
Ward said he landed his internship in Westerman’s office during welcome week at American University in August. Aside from touring the campus and looking at monuments, Ward said he also visited offices in the Capitol. One of those was Westerman’s. He said he was given a tour of the office by the staff assistant, who asked if he wanted an internship.
“She asked, ‘Are you going to be here?’ I said yes, and she asked if I wanted to intern, so I submitted my resume and now I’m here.”
Ward said he comes to the Capitol twice a week, where he answers phone calls from constituents, attends briefings, submits summaries and even look at bills and legislation.
“One really good thing about our office is they really like to get the interns involved,” Ward said. “If we want to work on something, we just ask.”
Ward said he loves policy and details, so political science was a natural choice. He said he’s always been passionate about helping people, and he’s happy that he’s able to do that in Westerman’s office. He then pointed out policy issues, or lack thereof, that he has observed as a resident of Pine Bluff.
“It’s one thing to run for office and not necessarily know what the people are running on, which I think is an issue we have in the City of Pine Bluff,” Ward said. “But, also, if you have someone who’s actually putting forth policies, that’s needed. You can’t just run for office and not necessarily have any policy ideas.”
Although Ward attributes a lot of his educational and social growth to the academic and extracurricular activities that he was involved in while living in Pine Bluff, he said he believes a lot of youths in the city have a stigmatism and stand in their own way.
“The one thing I would want to tell them is that if they set their minds to do something they want to do, they can achieve anything,” Ward said. “The only person limiting them would be themselves. If they shoot for the stars, they may not necessarily get what they want, but if they’re shooting high, they’ll land high.”
Ward said a comprehensive approach is needed.
“I feel that city leaders often talk about the youth, but I think it’s one thing to talk about the youth and another thing to actually make strides to affect the youth,” Ward said. “I think asking teachers to do it will take more of a comprehensive approach, and that’s how people should look at it.”
Ward said he plans to attend law school after graduating, focusing on constitutional law.
“I’m taking things day by day and making sure that what I am doing now I am doing to the best of my ability,” Ward said.