A Journey of Self-Discovery
PROVO, Utah – Apr 06, 2020 – For most people, jury duty is a chore. For Julie Rash, her jury-duty service became a catalyst for years of involvement in the Provo School board, an education through BYU Marriott’s EMPA program, and a life dedicated to public service.
In 1995, Rash served on a jury assigned to decide the verdict of a man charged with a drug offense. The other eleven jurors wanted to convict him, but Rash was not convinced he was guilty. After much discussion, the jury decided to acquit the man. “I felt like I had done something good because I was able to be a voice for the accused’s innocence when it would have been easy to send him to jail” she says. Rash shares that the experience “lit a flame in me towards public service.”
Rash continued her love for public service as she served on a committee to select a superintendent of the Provo School District in 2011. “I had an epiphany that the school district was a place where I could make a difference for people who others weren’t aware of,” says Rash. She was elected to the school board, and she’s been involved in improving the Provo community since taking her seat in 2012.
Even though her commitment to the community indicates that pursuing an MPA was the right path for her, Rash grew up in a family with no college graduates and never could have imagined that she would one day work towards a master’s degree. “In my family, college was a luxury reserved for people who didn't need to go to work or who had more money than we did,” says Rash.
Even though there was no family expectation that Rash attend college, she followed friends to Ricks College, now BYU–Idaho, and then BYU to earn her undergraduate degree in 1993 in international relations and history. After graduation, she worked at WordPerfect and the BYU Counseling and Career Center prior to her current work in the school board and her return to school in 2017.
Rash chose to continue her education in BYU Marriott’s EMPA program, and her time as a graduate student has helped her expand her world view. “My thoughts have been challenged, and I've gotten to know different perspectives,” says Rash. When she shared a project in one of her classes about a topic that affected her family, a fellow student accused her of being divisive. Rash was hurt by this criticism until she spent time with this classmate. After getting to know this woman, Rash built a friendship with her and learned to see things from her classmate’s eyes.
Experiences such as this one have taught Rash to bring individuals with diverse perspectives together to work towards a common goal. “Sometimes I look around at school board meetings and think, ‘There's not one other thing that would put these seven people in a room together,” says Rash. “I've seen the power of people coming together to do good things.”
Beyond the knowledge that Rash has gained to help her in her work with the school board, the EMPA program has left an impact on her that will continue after she graduates in April 2020. “I know myself better today than I did two and a half years ago,” says Rash. “I know how to use my strengths and how to acknowledge my weaknesses. I give this program a lot of credit for that.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce