Brittany Ward

The story of Brittany Ward, 24, of Winston Salem takes a unique spin in comparison to some of other stories from students in the Southside Rides program. Not only is she one of the few females to participate in and complete the program, but Ward is also a recent college graduate of Winston Salem State University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Psychology.

For Ward, her involvement in the program came as unexpected solution to the problem she faced after wrecking and totaling her first car during her junior year of college.

“He [Dave Moore] said, ‘why don’t you come and take the class?’

Ward chuckles remembering that day back in 2008. “I was thinking to myself that I didn’t want to take a class on car painting.”

After realizing she didn’t have enough money to cover the hefty repair fee for her car, Ward took Dave up on his offer and enrolled in the program. At that time, the program was offered to Ward free of charge because of the “Women in Untraditional Roles” grant that had been set up through Forsyth Technical Community College.

Ward purchased her supplies (a jumpsuit, a toolbox, a paint gun, sander, and a dolly) and joined 15 other students that semester to begin what she calls a “great experience.” For eight weeks, Ward attended classes at Southside Rides during the evening and classes at her university during the day. She experienced what it was like to paint a car for the first time, mix paint chemicals, and even gain an understanding of all that goes into running a business. She found herself not only standing out in the class as a female, but as a natural born leader as well. Moore recognized this characteristic and at times allowed Ward to lead the class through teaching and mentoring to the other students.

“It was different for me coming from a different background than the other students in the class at that time. I was the youngest; I was one of two females in the class, and I was an undergraduate in college.”

However, Ward says she never allowed the differences that separated her from the others in the class to overshadow the similarities that made them alike.

“I never placed myself above the rest of them, because I too had grown up where they had and had been exposed to the harsh realities of life. I was only different from them because of the choices I had made with my life.”

Ward warrants the positive decisions she’s made in her life like, going to college, staying out of trouble, and pursuing a career, to her strong family support system and to her deep-rooted faith and spirituality. Yet, despite having a strong spiritual background and family support, Ward admits these are not the only determining factors of a person’s “success.”

“My three brothers and I were all raised by same parents in the same house under the same values; however somewhere along the way two of my brothers took different paths and became caught up in a different lifestyle resulting in incarceration. I saw that and knew I was never going to be like that. I wasn’t going to follow the crowd, because I wanted to be different.”

Ward currently works as an On-site Coordinator for 21st Century Community Learning Center, a grant-funded program, where she oversees, tutors, and mentors children in grades K-8 in the community. She credits a lot of her success to the insight and knowledge she has gained through Southside Rides.

“I’ve learned a new skill. I feel like now I know how to do so much that I’ll never be jobless…I know I’m going to survive. I’m going to make it.”

-- Christina Sandidge