James Ward
James Ward

The nation’s premier graduate fellowship for those pursuing careers as public service leaders has named a University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu student to be among its recipients.

The Truman Foundation selected political science major James Patrick Ward, an ʻEwa Beach resident and Petty Officer 1st Class in the Navy, to be part of its 2020 Class of Truman Scholars. Students are chosen for this prestigious award based on their records of leadership, public service and academic achievement.

The highly competitive scholarship offers up to $30,000 to apply toward graduate study in the United States or abroad in a wide variety of fields. The competition was narrowed down from 773 applications to 190 finalists. The foundation selected 62 college students from 55 institutions as 2020 Truman Scholars. Ward is the only student from UH selected this year. UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham notified him via email, which he immediately shared with his wife, Lorna.

“It wasn’t until she broke into a big smile and started shouting that it finally hit home,” said Ward, who noted that this happened while he was completing a 14-day post-travel quarantine, “so this was all conducted through our lanai windows!”

This is the first scholarship Ward has ever received and it took a few minutes for his shock to transform into elation, he said.

“Of course, after which, I found myself jumping up and down and shouting for joy—all the while maintaining appropriate social distancing,” he quipped. “I still get giddy thinking about it.”

In a follow-up conversation earlier this week, Benham told Ward via Zoom video conference that she was happy for him and his family, and that this was an extraordinary opportunity.

“Here at UH West Oʻahu, our value proposition is to graduate community-based leaders who will create change in our communities grounded on social justice,” Benham said to Ward. “You being selected as a Truman Scholar speaks volumes about both what you bring as a learner and what your professors are doing.”

On to law school

Ward—who enrolled at UH West Oʻahu in the spring of 2019—is focused on graduating in December with a bachelor of arts in political science.

“The political science program at UH West Oʻahu may be small in stature but punches way above its weight-class, integrating indigenous philosophies and concepts into the otherwise stale and worn-out paradigms of western political science,” he said. “In this sense UH West Oʻahu is incredibly precious and special, and I think a perfect incubator for new paradigms of political science and law in Hawaiʻi.”

Ward plans to use the scholarship to attend the UH Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law and the UH Mānoa graduate school of political science, utilizing the dual degree program to earn a juris doctorate and postgraduate doctoral degrees. He aspires to become a lawyer and policy specialist working towards social justice.

“My overall goal is to provide legal service on a personal level and public basis for those of us that need it most—the underfunded, undereducated and marginalized people who make up the vast majority of America and Hawaiʻi,” Ward said. “This is one of the reasons I am so drawn to the Richardson School of Law. Their pro-bono program and Hawaiʻi Innocence Project puts law students right where they should be, helping people in need.”

For more see E Kamakani Hou.

—By Zenaida S. Arvman

Maenette Benham and James Ward
Chancellor Maenette Benham congratulates James Ward