Senior sociology major Demetrius Terry has faced a number of setbacks in his life.
Even though he grew up in what he described as a broken home and even took a year off from SHU in the spring of 2012, only to return in the fall of 2013, he has not let this define him. In fact, these same setbacks have set him on a course to motivate and inspire others.
As the Executive Vice President of the College Democrats of New Jersey (CDNJ), Terry represents more than 380,000 students. Terry explained that he is passionate about encouraging students to become politically active and promoting equality. He cited living in Jersey City as part of his motivation because he has witnessed economic inequality there.
“[Jersey City] is more of A Tale of Two Cities,” Terry said. “I want to bridge that gap and I feel like what I am doing now will help me toward that goal.”
This objective seems to have carried over into Terry’s other projects as well. In 2009, he and a friend founded Youth2Inspire, a business Terry said he hopes to continue after college.
He added that Youth2Inspire is a nonprofit that helps underprivileged children through motivational speaking and providing them with “the resources they need to stay successful.”
Terry explained that much of what he has achieved was thanks to the guidance of others. Among these individuals is Carmelo Garcia, former N.J. State Assemblyman of Hoboken, and Terry’s mentor.
“He continues to guide me today, showing me the right path for my political and educational career,” Terry said.
Additionally, Terry credits Christopher Kaiser, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for helping convince him to come back to Seton Hall after his one-year hiatus.
Kaiser explained he was able to connect with Terry, in part, because they both attended Marist Brothers Catholic institutions for high school.
According to Kaiser, this connection allowed them to discuss the importance of a higher education, especially with respect to “the Catholic intellectual tradition.”
“I would describe Demetrius as a hard-working, motivated, caring student, who sees it his duty to use his degree in sociology for the betterment of others,” Kaiser said in an email.
Terry’s work in the political sphere has been a transformative journey for him, allowing his views to change as he got more involved.
Though he is a Democrat now, Terry was Chairman of the New Jersey Hudson County Teenage Republicans from 2010-2012.
“I got attacked pretty heavily because of being African American and being Republican,” Terry said. “People thought I was crazy.”
Terry went on to say that, as he progressed in college and did more research, his views on marriage equality, raising minimum wage and college affordability prompted his transition to the Democratic party.
Terry does not see his political career ending any time soon. He said he would be interested in running for public office after graduation. Terry’s academic adviser, Carroll Alston, the Associate Director of Counseling and Enrollment in Educational Opportunity Program, said he has an important choice to make as he progress in politics.
“The advice I gave him was to decide if he was going to be a politician or a servant of his constituents, but that he couldn’t be both,” Alston said.
Terry explained that, even though he is young, his experiences thus far have helped him gain insight.
“There are some people who tend to write me off but I want to say that actions speak louder than words,” he said, “I let my accomplishments and things that I do speak for themselves.”
Julie Trien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.