Wade Jones, ’17, has long dreamed of making a difference in the world. Just a year after graduating from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, he has that opportunity.
“There’s no higher calling than public service, so to go to [the Bush School] with the idea of maybe being able to make a difference and then get the opportunity to do some good is incredible,” said Jones.
Jones graduated with the inaugural Executive Master of Public Service and Administration (EMPSA) class at the Bush School in 2017. Now, less than a year later, he is crafting the Solomon Islands’ first-ever national security strategy.
“It’s a dream job,” Jones, who is a native of Beaumont, Texas, said about his recent appointment as national security policy adviser for the Solomon Islands.
Before he landed his current job though, Jones earned his bachelor’s degree from the American Military University in business administration, spent time in the US Army, worked as a contractor for the US Department of State, and ultimately earned his master’s degree at the Bush School.
In early 2014, Jones was working as a government contractor in Afghanistan. In May 2014, his brother graduated from Texas A&M, and during his trip to College Station for his brother’s graduation, Jones toured the campus and visited all the famed spots on campus steeped in Aggie and military tradition. He was intrigued by Texas A&M. After moving to Vanuatu in December 2015 with his wife (an Australian diplomat he met while working in Afghanistan), he began looking at the programs Texas A&M had to offer, knowing he wanted to continue his education. He said he was considering the MBA program when he stumbled upon the Bush School and knew it was what he needed to further his career.
Service to others has always been a value highly held by the Jones family; his brother was a member of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets and commissioned into the Army upon graduation. The Bush School and its commitment to public service appealed to Jones immediately.
In 1978, just thirty-nine years before Jones graduated from the Bush School, the Solomon Islands gained independence. Now the new country is writing its first National Security Strategy. Jones’ job is to help craft this strategy.
Once a protectorate of the United Kingdom, the Solomon Islands earned its right to self-governance, and, like many foundling countries, faces problems in its infancy. These problems include rampant corruption and tensions between a trend toward globalization and a steadfast desire held by many inhabitants to cling to traditional ways and rural roots. This dichotomy makes creating a functional national security strategy challenging, but the answer lies somewhere in the crossroads of these two mindsets, Jones said.
“If you don’t take into consideration these variables, you haven’t properly addressed the problem,” said Jones.
That balance is what Jones is trying to understand and manage in his new role, and his time at the Bush School helped prepare him for this challenge.
“If I hadn’t earned that [EMPSA] degree, I wouldn’t have been able to transition to this role so seamlessly,” said Jones.
He explained that one of the most important things he gained from the Bush School was the ability to look at a seemingly insurmountable problem and then break it down into smaller, more manageable bits.