JOHN WARD is a PA CPS (Certified Peer Support Specialist) with a uniquely diverse background, experience, and skill set.
Originally from State College, PA, John attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he studied mechanical engineering until, in what he would later realize was one of his first elevated episodes, he spent the night before a physics final writing a feature length screenplay in sixteen non-stop hours.
John switched his focus to psychology and ran two studies as an undergraduate, the first in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Zoo through a fellowship grant concerning primate behavior and biological functions for which he was featured on Carnegie Mellon’s homepage. His honors thesis, funded by a second undergraduate grant, was “Perceptions of Depression in Men and Women.”
Upon graduation John moved to San Antonio, Texas and spent several years not using engineering or psychology, instead founding with a classmate an independent film production company and bringing a feature project to within a month of principle photography before losing funding.
John then enjoyed his first full-force experience with Bipolar disorder type 1 – “Schizoaffective.”
After a series of experiences that included not sleeping upwards of a week, hearing voices, shadowy visual hallucinations, a perceived messianic mission, a strange and retrospectively hilarious/incoherent theory about tetrahedrons, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and ultimately incarceration, John spent a month at Johns Hopkins inpatient facility – which had a major and lasting positive impact on his life. Perhaps the most valuable experience was sharing a facility with twenty other individuals with very similar experiences. It was during his time as a guest at Hopkins that John began to understand what mental “illness” was and how to deal with it.
Over the next few years John would, despite his best efforts or perhaps because of them, end a six year relationship; move back to State College and study petroleum engineering at Penn State for a year before dropping out; work a number of strange and often menial jobs in a lithium-induced haze; rediscover a purpose and passion – and ultimately attend CPS training in 2016, where he would meet future CBTN host and published poet Randi Fellows.
Outside of CBTN John currently works with a local musician on back-end financial and technical projects including sound engineering, statistical analyses, and spittin hot fire. He has written two (unpublished) novels, and currently has around forty original instrumental (electronic) songs in various stages of production – he hopes to pare and refine them into an album.
Change But The Name evolved from an ongoing project John aims to complete in the next few years – a feature documentary entitled, unsurprisingly, Change But The Name.
As of December 2016 John lives in and writes from a homeless shelter in Central Pennsylvania.