Jimmy Arwood sits on the steps of Old Main in his grad cap and gown

Making sure everyone has a seat at the table

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Jimmy Arwood is no stranger to the Downtown Phoenix campus. In fact, he’s a face many people — students, faculty, even legislators — would recognize from a mile away.

In his time at Arizona State University, he’s served on numerous boards and committees, and volunteered for dozens of organizations, making lasting connections with peers and mentors alike.

Arwood is the Spring 2018 Outstanding Graduate for ASU's School of Public Affairs. He was also selected as one of Barrett, The Honors College senior spotlights. He graduates with his bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy with a concentration in sustainability.

“There are so many incredible people here that made such enormous impacts on my life, that it's really hard to say goodbye,” Arwood said. “The staff, my advisers, my professors, they've all been a part of my development, and it's really strange to think that I won't be taking anymore classes with them.”

One class that was a standout for Arwood was School of Public Affairs Professor Jerry Oliver’s "21st Century Contemporary Policy Issues," where he heard from various policy makers nearly every week. Oliver said Arwood is a marvelous selection for the outstanding graduate honor.

“Jimmy is a high performing student that excelled as a discussion and thought leader in our classroom public policy lectures and discussions,” Oliver said. “Jimmy has a keen sense of humor that he used to take the edge off sensitive in-class debates rendering him a go-to person for his fellow students seeking to grasp the touchy concepts.”

Arwood didn’t wait to have his public service and public policy degree in hand before making his mark on local policy issues. Active in grassroots organizing, he has seen first-hand the tangible effects public policy has on people’s lives.

“I believe Jimmy is a natural politician and seems at ease blending others’ points of view as he seeks to gain consensus or compromise,” Oliver said. “He is confident, always prepared yet humble enough to realize that he still has much to learn. Jimmy is someone who will make a difference and leave a legacy of achievement in his life beyond ASU.”

One issue Arwood is particularly passionate about is education policy. He feels fixing the system should be a top priority.

“We need to give every kid and every a student a real opportunity to be successful,” Arwood said. “Teachers feel unheard, students feel unheard. The education community deserves a voice.”

Arwood has had notable success, including his work with Save Our Schools Arizona, a local citizens’ group dedicated to strengthening Arizona public schools, and he’s only getting started.

“I know that we can't achieve the vision of balanced government, without a balanced state legislature,” Arwood said. “I'm going to be working day and night to make sure that all voices are represented at the table.” 

Written by Bryce Newberry