Wes Bradford thought he knew what path he wanted to take in life.
After attending North Arkansas College, he planned on transferring to a four-year university, getting his bachelor’s degree in accounting and beginning his career as an estate planner or tax attorney.
Bradford did mostly stick to the plan that he had devised in high school, but it was in law school that he realized he had a passion for a different type of law.
“I grew up in a law enforcement family,” he said. “After earning my bachelor’s degree in accounting, I thought I would pursue a career as an estate planner or tax attorney. However, in law school the study of criminal law and procedure interested me the most, so after earning my law degree and passing the bar exam, I pursued a career in criminal prosecution instead.”
That change has led to a 23-year career as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the State of Arkansas and the honor of being named the North Arkansas College 2020 Distinguished Alumnus, which recognizes graduates for their outstanding accomplishments in their respective fields.
Bradford, a Harrison native, was a co-valedictorian of his senior class at Harrison High School, starter on the Goblin football team and member of the track team. He was the first recipient of the Dr. Joe Wilson Family Doctor’s Clinic Scholar Athlete Award.
After his first two years of college at Northark, Bradford transferred to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned his law degree. Bradford was named to the Dean’s List at both institutions.
Bradford said he chose to attend Northark “because of the bachelor’s degree I was seeking, the ease of transferring credits to a university to finish my degree, and the much-reduced expense of attending college locally before transferring to a university.”
It provided a great transition between a high school setting and a large university setting,” he continued. “Going straight from high school to a university is not always the best choice.”
Bradford said he is glad his legal career has turned out the way it has. Over the years, he has tried cases involving some of the most violent offenses including sexual assault and capital murder.
Bradford said the best part of his job is “helping people when they are going through what can be one of the most stressful or traumatic moments in their lives — being victims of a crime.”
Bradford and his wife Carol have two sons, Jacob and Matthew. He is active in his church, where he serves as a lector and on the finance committee. Bradford is also a member of the Harrison Lions Club, and for 11 years was an adult leader with the Boy Scouts of America.
To mark his Distinguished Alumnus achievement, Bradford will be recognized at the Arkansas Community Colleges 32nd Annual Conference that will be held virtually Oct. 12-13.