A group of people sitting at a table during a Bowling Green City Council meeting.
BGSU senior Damon Sherry manages dual roles as a student and Ward 1 Council Member for the city of Bowling Green. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

BGSU student balances coursework with budding political career after winning election to Bowling Green City Council

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Damon Sherry embraces their dual role as a student and elected official

By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07

Damon Sherry is a Bowling Green State University senior and an elected official.

Although managing the dual roles can be a delicate balance, Sherry embraces the convergence of their education and political career as equally important for their future.

Sherry, who is majoring in political science, values the knowledge they’re receiving in the classroom and the real-world experience of serving as the Ward 1 Council Member for the city of Bowling Green.

“I see the two roles as interconnected,” Sherry said. “Learning how the government works in class has really set the foundation, and being an actual government official trying to apply those concepts in council provides me with an entirely different experience. Both are providing valuable knowledge I’ll rely on for years. I’m a sponge, soaking it all in. I’m always learning, growing and adapting.”

Although Sherry isn’t the first BGSU student to be elected to Bowling Green City Council, they are the first openly queer, nonbinary person to hold that position.

Sherry said they initially questioned running for the open council seat.

But with encouragement from their fiance, friends, community members and BGSU students, faculty and staff, Sherry gained the confidence needed to begin their campaign.

“Having that support from fellow students, faculty and staff was such a great experience,” Sherry said. “That’s why I love BGSU. I have such great connections with my professors. They really helped prepare me for that moment and were so excited to see that I was running.”

A person standing in front of a City of Bowling Green, Ohio sign.
The experience of being on the city council fulfills Sherry's desire to enact meaningful change and give back to the community they revere. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

From the classroom to the campaign

Sherry ran a grassroots campaign, spending weeks canvassing neighborhoods and meeting with constituents to share their vision for Ward 1. In the end, Sherry said BGSU student voter turnout was significant in helping them win the election.

Dr. David Jackson, a BGSU political science professor and political analyst, said Sherry’s firm grasp of the many soft skills taught throughout the political science degree program likely contributed to their success at the polls.

While students learn about the fundamentals of political science and the relationship between politics and mass media, Jackson said there’s also a substantial emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, speaking effectively, formulating arguments and communicating a persuasive message.

“While we do not set out to teach students how to win elections, we teach them a set of soft skills and foundational information that, if applied correctly from one discipline to another, be it political science, biology or chemistry, will set them up for success in whatever field they choose,” he said.

Jackson said the experience of developing a campaign, meeting with constituents and ultimately winning an election is invaluable at this stage of Sherry's political career.

“Damon is getting firsthand experience of what it’s like to be responsible to an electorate on a wide range of issues,” he said. “They might not all be central to the student’s core interests, but they are necessary to keep a small to medium-sized city like Bowling Green running.

“It illuminates the practical side of politics and that knowledge and experience will be incredibly beneficial to Damon as they continue to build their political career.”

Making a difference

For Sherry, the experience of being on the city council fulfills a desire to enact meaningful change and give back to the community they revere. They said it’s about making small, incremental progress.

“Any movement is movement. Whether it’s implementing a community garden or getting all-gender bathrooms in the downtown area or just increasing support from the community and building that connective bond between residents and campus, that’s success,” Sherry said.

Sherry is on track to graduate from BGSU in Spring 2024 but plans to serve the Bowling Green community through 2025 when their term on city council ends.

“Bowling Green welcomed me with open arms, helped me build my network and let me lay my foundations here,” Sherry said. “It’s a place where I found my chosen family and developed lifelong friendships. It’s where I grew professionally. It would be wrong of me not to give back to the place that has given me so much.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 05/03/2024 10:08AM