Volunteer Profile: Sherese A. Ward (she/her) (WAG ’15)
October 15, 2021
NYU Alumni Association (NYUAA) Board of Directors member Sherese A. Ward (she/her) (WAG ’15) admits one of the perks of staying involved is using her NYU Alumni Card for discounted coffee at her favorite cafes. But the real reason for Sherese, a fourth-year member who serves on the Board’s Benefits & Service committee, is her desire to give back to the university that propelled her own success and to support students in their transition to post-grad life.
“I imagine there are endless reasons why a person might take the step to lend their skills, talent, and time to serve NYU. But I believe that if you are someone who cares to be part of helping to shape the future experiences of students and cultivate deeper alumni-university relationships—get involved,” says Sherese.
Her volunteer experience complements her professional endeavors, where Sherese is the Portfolio Director for K–12 education for the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Sherese oversees the foundation’s K–12 education portfolio, which focuses on growing quality schools, investing in diverse leaders, and amplifying community voices in support of student learning. Previously, Sherese served as the chief of staff and strategy for the New York City Department of Education’s Division of Human Capital, and before that, as a special assistant in the Office of the Superintendent at Newark Public School.
How did you first become involved as an NYU alumni volunteer?
As my graduation approached, I knew I wanted to remain connected to the NYU community and researched ways to accomplish that. During a conversation with [fellow Wagner alum and now Vice President of the NYUAA] Corey Blay (STERN, WAG ‘14), he suggested that I consider NYUAA Board service and invited me to join one of the Board’s committees to get a flavor for the work, level of engagement, and experience. That fall I joined the Recent Alumni Student Programming (RASP) committee and I was hooked.
Why do you stay involved with NYU? Why would you encourage other alumni to get involved?
NYUAA Board members have the option to serve only a single three-year term and when I had to make the decision to continue my service, it was a no-brainer. I felt that I had unfinished business. It has been a real joy building relationships with NYU alumni outside of my beloved Wagner community, and doing so in service of the over 600,000 alumni we have across the globe. At this time, I’m eager to flex different muscles, engage in new subcommittees, and figure out different ways to lend my voice as an alumni ambassador.
What’s your proudest (or most fun) moment from serving on the Board so far?
Pre-pandemic, my most fun Board tradition was convening at Yankee Stadium for NYU Commencement. The energy of the day is unmatched. It brings back memories of the special moments I experienced on my Commencement day with fellow classmates and looking out upon a sea of violet evokes a certain sense of pride. NYU alumni go on to have incredible careers, and I can’t help but imagine all that awaits each of those graduates.
Did you have any NYU classes or instructors who inspired or impacted you?
The Politics of International Development course led by Professor Gershman for its rich content and Gershman’s brilliant context-setting and delivery of complex and nuanced policy matters that inform and determine how internal development occurs across the globe. Every class took me on a thought-provoking journey.
What is your favorite NYU memory?
An excursion that led me on an incredible adventure that concluded in roasting marshmallows on an active volcano in Guatemala. I took Jill Kickul’s International Social Impact Strategies course and our class was in the country working on a consulting project for Soluciones Comunitarias.
What is your favorite:
- Food? Cacio e Pepe
- Book? The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
- TV Show and/or Movie? Inception
- Podcast? Throughline NPR
- Song and/or Musical Artist? 90s R&B
- Place on NYU’s campus? Washington Square Park
- Social Distancing Activity? Meet-ups in the park