In a testimony to the impact of the Ozanam Scholar program, Jeremy Ashton switched career goals from the arts to using the arts for social justice.
Though public advocacy work is a considerable shift from Ashton’s original ambition to act, he has found connections among his passions and goals. “I’ve come to understand that lobbying and legal non-profit work has many elements of performance to it,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t realize that an experience is helping you move forward until a year later when you’re able to put it in a different context.”
Ashton is well on his way toward his new career goal of public interest law. During the summer of 2016, he participated in the competitive Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program, which identifies leaders in racial, economic, and social justice and offers them early exposure to the study and practice of law.
He credits the combined degree program, which has allowed him to take graduate English courses as an undergraduate student, with helping him develop the leadership and critical thinking skills he’ll need in law and advocacy. Said Ashton: “The combined degree program helped me develop analytical skills and learn to build a project from beginning to end. Taking [Associate Professor Elda Tsou, Ph.D.’s] graduate theory course as an undergraduate student was challenging and taught me both how to look at an idea through many different lenses and, most importantly, how to ‘fail’ when learning difficult concepts. I realized that it’s not about being the smartest person in the room but about learning from your peers and collaborating effectively.”
A love for writing and the arts has always been at the forefront of Ashton’s SJU career, and he has shared his passion for performance, literature, and poetry with others, publishing work in Wild Spice Magazine. “Poetry has been an important tool for me to be creative and figure out who I want to be as a person. That’s what literary studies can do for people,” said Ashton.
This perspective – that the arts are a powerful tool for helping others – has characterized Ashton’s career at SJU so far, and will no doubt guide him toward service and success in the future.
Source: St. John’s University web site