Jerel A. Ballard
Communications - Riverside University High School
"It was the guidance and the support system at Riverside that played a big role in everything I have accomplished."
Jerel A. Ballard, a proud alumnus from Riverside University High School, class of 2013. At the age of 25, Jerel was nominated by the Chief of Police, Alfonso Morales, to serve as the Communications and Marketing Officer for the Police Commission. In short, Jerel is responsible for assisting city officials during crisis Communications and bridging the gap between police and community. Jerel was unanimously approved by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission for this position.
Before accepting his new role with the City of Milwaukee, Jerel was a weekday reporter and "Sunrise7 Sunday" anchor for CBS (WSAW7) and FOX (WZAW). Throughout his reporting career, Jerel covered a wide range of local, regional and national stories.
After graduating from Riverside University High School, he enrolled at Columbia College in Chicago majoring in Broadcast Journalism and was soon elected as the first African American Student Government President. As president, Jerel represented over 10,000 students at one of the largest arts and communications colleges in the Midwest. Jerel continued to amplify the students voice city-wide by rebranding the entire structure of the student government. Under his administration, Jerel was appointed to the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Committee where he influenced legislation and educational policy that impacted students statewide.
In 2009, Jerel Co-Founded "Lead 2 Change Incorporated," a leading career readiness organization that engages young people in leadership opportunities and equips them with essential tools to be successful in college, their career and the community. The program was created to engage young people in youth leadership and philanthropy. This non-profit offers 16 nationally recognized career clusters to help young people find their passion and follow their path. Website: www.lead2Changeinc.org
Jerel was eventually offered a press internship with the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, where he was tasked to prepare daily news digests for the mayor and other public officials throughout the city of Chicago. Shortly thereafter, in 2016, Jerel accepted an internship with United States Senator Richard, "Dick" Durban. He received a scholarship from Fund for American Studies in Washington DC. While there, Jerel studied Political Science at George Mason University.
Upon his return to Milwaukee, Jerel interned for Mayor Tom Barrett and the Argosy Foundation while launching the Milwaukee's Finest Scholarship Foundation. The mission of his foundation is to encourage all students (with ambitions seeking higher education) by providing an equal opportunity for financial assistance. On May 16, 2016, Tom Barrett issued a proclamation declaring "Milwaukee Finest Scholarship Day" throughout the City of Milwaukee.
"I started my career as a Television Anchor and Reported for CBS and FOX news in north-central Wisconsin. I first discovered my passion for reporting when I started writing for the school newspaper at Riverside. I discovered that I loved public speaking while doing morning announcements. I wanted to better the lives of residents in Milwaukee when I was elected to the Student Council at school. I discovered my passion for video production and television when I joined the (theater) stage crew. It was experiences ike these that showed me how valuable broadcast journalism was and therefore that was the path for me in college."
When asked about the impact that MPS had on him growing up, Jerel stated, "Growing up in one of the most segregated cities in the country had lasting impact on me and my friends. Milwaukee Public Schools inspired me to continue to make a change and to speak up for those who may not have a voice. MPS has always encouraged its students to think outside the box, to challenge themselves to do the impossible, and to be consistent with the changes that we want to see. I challenge teachers, administrators and faculty to fight for extra-curricular activities that keep students coming back to school. Once again, it was the extra-curricular activities that helped me choose the right college, the right career, and ultimately, it led me down the path to success."
If I could speak to my fellow classmates and all MPS alumni I would say, "Get involved with our youth. Become a mentor. We have the experiences that could guide them in the right direction. There is no reason for us to hold onto our experiences. Let's share what we have learned from the challenges that we have faced with those younger than ourselves."
Riverside University ALumni Association: https://www.facebook.com/groups/46299143863/about/
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