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Alumnus’s Passions for Music and Criminal Justice Collide
As a student at the University of New Haven, Nathan Ward ’15, ’17 M.S. studied criminal justice while sharing his passion for music with the University community. Now a law enforcement professional, he still enjoys writing and playing music on a hard day’s night.
January 25, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Nathan Ward ’15, ’17 M.S. fondly remembers the first class he attended at the University of New Haven, a course that focused on one of his favorite artists: the Beatles. The course enabled him to connect with a professor who would become a mentor and a friend – and to share his passion for music with the University community.
A few weeks later, Ward’s professor, Wes Davis, a senior lecturer in English and film, asked him if his band would play at the University’s Bucknall Theater. Prof. Davis was organizing the Honors Program’s film series, which he was tying into the Beatles course he was teaching. Ward accepted, and he was part of Beatles-themed event that included a film featuring several Beatles songs, live music, and a discussion on the enduring legacy of the Beatles.
“We ended up doing second Beatles night in 2014,” said Ward. “We later hosted a preview screening of ‘Eight Days A Week’ with a big display of rare Beatles memorabilia. Wes Davis is now a friend, and it was wonderful to be a part of this.”
A student of music
Ward’s passion for music started when he was a kid. He first heard Elvis Pressley’s music when he was five or six years old, and he still has his first cassette tape. He began learning to play the piano at around that same time, an instrument he would go on to play for the University community and that he would later be featured playing in a video on Paul McCartney’s website.
Ward, who later taught himself to play the guitar, released his first album shortly before beginning his studies at the University of New Haven. Continuing his musical career along with his work as a student, he was in school Monday through Thursday and on the road Friday through Sunday.
Planning to release his first new album in seven years in February, Ward says I Walk Alone, reflects a change in musical direction from the sounds of the 1960s of his earlier albums to music of the 1990s. He considers it to be a tribute to the popular rock bands Nirvana and Green Day, which he first began listening to while was working as a producer for one of the country’s largest professional wrestling companies. He often had an opportunity to listen to music before the shows started.
“I had a folder of songs that I inherited from the previous producer, one of them being ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ by Green Day,” he explained. “I loved the song. I put it on my iPod. I even learned how to play it on the guitar.”
‘I love my job’
In addition to his love of music, Ward is passionate about criminal justice – something he has dedicated his career to. In addition to continuing to write and perform music during his time at the University, he focused on preparing for a career in law enforcement, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in investigations. In addition to musicians such as the Beatles and the Who, Ward cites world-renowned forensic scientist Henry C. Lee, Ph.D., as an inspiration.
“I followed Dr. Lee’s career since I was a kid,” said Ward, who transferred to the University from Naugatuck Valley Community College. “I really valued my time at the University of New Haven, and I always return every year for the Markle Symposium. It’s a great school, one of the top schools in the country for criminal justice.”
Ward, who has a recording studio in his home in North Carolina, played his last live show in 2017. He has continued to collaborate with other musicians, and he is hoping to play more live shows later this year, depending on the impact of the coronavirus global pandemic. In addition to his music, he is focused on his work as a probation/parole officer with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
“I love my job,” he said. “I honestly wouldn't want to go anywhere else. I love the job and the people I'm with. It is a very rewarding position.”