Community Organizing Shapes Dreams of Joshua Ward '10
Current third year law student and future seminarian Joshua Ward '10 has a big goal. Utilizing the knowledge, experience, and skills he has honed thus far, Ward wants to reach out to people in need or in a crisis before tragedies—such as prison—become a reality. How that will shape up ultimately he doesn’t know. But he has it as his goal, which he is sure to reach.
Dayton, Ohio native Ward is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majored in business administration (with a marketing concentration) and Spanish. He had always been interested in law and attending law school. At one point during his undergraduate years, Ward interned in Cincinnati doing work related to his business major. It was during that experience that he realized he could be successful in business if law didn’t work out, so he decided to go to law school upon graduation. He chose UC Law because it had two distinct advantages: 1) it is close to his hometown; and 2) it has a good reputation. In addition, the school’s smaller size was also appealing, because he felt as though it was a place in which he could “plug in” and really be a contributing member of the community.
But after graduating from Morehouse in 2006, Ward took a year off before starting law school. “During spring break of my senior year,” he explained, “I went to New Orleans to help out after Hurricane Katrina hit. After graduation I went back for a week and ended up getting an offer to stay longer.” Ward worked with the College of Law, to which he had already been accepted, to defer his tuition. For the next year, he served as a grassroots community organizer, building coalitions in the community and conducting door-to-door organizing.
Community Organizing Changes His Perspective
Although Ward had initially been attracted to the law by the opportunities it presented for prestige and financial security, his perspective changed after his experience in New Orleans. As a result, his focus shifted more to public interest law. “I felt led to go to law school to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said, “and to advocate for those without a voice." During his first summer of law school, Ward worked with the Ohio Innocence Project. “It was a good experience,” he explained. “But it made me realize that I wanted to get involved in peoples’ lives before it got to the point where they were in prison.”
During the summer after his 2L year, Ward had a judicial clerkship with Judge Walter Rice of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Dayton. He commented that he had a great experience as a clerk. “I had the opportunity to see every step in a case from beginning to end—from pretrial conferences to jury trials to sentencing,” he explained. The experience also gave him the opportunity to hear the judge’s “wisdom.” He and Judge Rice had many conversations in which Ward was able to learn a lot—not only his perspective on the law and its applications in different situations and to different entities, but life lessons as well.
Plugging Into the Law Community
Throughout law school, Ward has remained very involved, both inside and outside the law school. He is currently on the Executive Board for the Black Law Students Association, a justice for Student Court, and a 3L representative for the Student Bar Association. Ward was also previously involved with the criminal law association. In his role as 3L representative Ward has been one of the chairs of the Hooding Committee, which has involved planning events such as UC Law merchandise sales and the Hooding Auction, and which is currently keeping him busy with plans for the Hooding Ceremony itself. Additionally, Ward has worked with Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions Al Watson on reaching out to and recruiting prospective students to the law school.
Outside of the law school, Ward is involved in a program called Leadership Scholars. Leadership Scholars is a leadership development and mentoring program for local inner city middle and high school students, and he has been volunteering an hour a week for the last two years to the organization. Ward is also involved in his local church. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife Barbara and their dog Thomas.
Following graduation this May, Ward plans on taking the Ohio bar exam along with many of his colleagues. After that, however, he is planning on going to seminary. “I feel a calling to move in that direction,” he explained. “My summer experiences had a big impact on me, and I feel as though God is calling me to become more involved in the church.” He hasn’t yet decided where he will go to seminary, but explained that he is looking at several schools.
Lindsay Mather ‘11