Ever wonder who designs the graphics for NTUF’s blogs and reports? This summer, Creative Content Intern JR Ridley is in charge of making sure taxpayers are provided with the interesting, understandable, and relatable pictures and graphs that illustrate NTUF’s research. The pictures he’s edited include those of the interns in their Profiles in Liberty posts, as well as this picture , which was included in NTUF’s candidate analyses in the latest Florida special election. He’s also working to prepare graphics for our upcoming BillTally Report.
JR Ridley comes to NTUF from Flagstaff, Arizona by way of Vanderbilt University. He is currently seeking a BA in Political Science along with minors in Computer Science and Managerial Studies. Last summer, JR interned with Young America’s Foundation at the Reagan Ranch Center, where he organized high school and college conferences. This past year, he designed online educational modules for the college’s Medical School as part of his work in Vanderbilt’s IT department.
What have you enjoyed about working at NTUF so far?
JR: The people and the mission of NTUF are what make this internship so enjoyable. My supervisor, Tim Howland (NTUF’s Creative Content Manager) and the rest of the staff and interns are really supportive and motivated; it’s been a fun group to work with. I also feel that our work is making a difference. I’m working to educate taxpayers on very real, tangible problems in our government today. It’s a really fulfilling and rewarding experience.
How did you become interested in politics?
JR: In high school, I had several teachers who encouraged me to start following current events. As I read the news more and more, I started to realize that a lot of what I was reading sounded like completely absurd government policies and programs. I saw government as an impediment to my dreams of being successful, so I started researching policies in order to understand more about this intrusive bureaucracy and how to change it.
Who is your political hero?
JR: I have considered myself a Reaganite since I became interested in politics. I admire Reagan’s fortitude and conviction as President. Regardless of whether he was working on tax cuts, military operations, or horseback riding, President Reagan knew his position and stood by his beliefs. He didn’t yield to special interests or threats, and I admire his courage for that. Beyond that, though, he understood that his role as a national leader meant that people would be looking to him for guidance. He took his influence in stride, and painted an image of hope and optimism throughout his presidency, encouraging people to embrace American Exceptionalism.
What does a standard day at NTUF Headquarters look like for you?
JR: I can’t really describe a “standard day” because no day is really standard as a Creative Content Intern. My main task has been to design and develop different graphics for the BillTally First Session report. Some days, I spend most of the day formatting a single picture, and on other days I’m churning out images and graphs to post online. I also occasionally get to contribute to the BillTally report by scoring introduced bills for changes in spending. It’s a very dynamic and versatile workload.
Why did you choose to work at NTUF this summer?
JR: To develop two of my passions: reforming government spending and developing my computer programming abilities. NTUF offers me the best of both worlds, allowing me to take a very hands-on approach to understanding governmental operations while helping me build skills that will benefit me tremendously in my future professional career. The mission of NTUF is one that drew my attention as soon as I heard about it. I worry about the future of our country if the path of spending we’re on continues, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to work with an organization which is so committed to providing information about this spending.
What do you enjoy doing in your time outside the office?
JR: Most of my free time is spent playing sports, learning about the exploits of Dr. House on Netflix, or exploring. I’m a rugby and soccer player at school, so I’ve found pickup leagues to stay active while in Washington, D.C.
What have you enjoyed most about living in Washington, D.C. this summer?
JR: I have a deep appreciation for American history so it’s been exciting to be able to explore so many of the museums and exhibits. The monuments at night (especially the World War II Monument) are mesmerizing, and Arlington National Cemetery and the American History Museum have definitely been some of the key highlights from my time here.
What advice do you have for future interns?
JR: Take advantage of your time here. The museums, the staff at your job, the entertainment, and your fellow interns are all part of an incredible opportunity that you may not get to experience again. Learn as much as you can with all the resources you have available, and, most importantly, enjoy the time you spend here.
Be on the look-out for our next interview with Kelly Hastings. If you missed it, be sure to read our conversation with Paul Bartow.
How can you help? Join with thousands of Americans committed to fiscal transparency and sustainable government by making a tax-deductible contribution. The more you give to NTUF, the less you hand over to Uncle Sam.
Thanks to Catherine Fitzhugh for developing the Profiles in Liberty series and interviewing our interns.