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Terry Sherman BA’25 strives to be a force for good on and off the court

by Sophie Cipolla,

To say Terry Sherman’s BA’25 summer was packed is an understatement. In addition to taking biology classes and shooting hoops for the basketball team, Sherman brought generations together at Center 50+, the City of Salem’s senior community center, through Willamette’s Lear Summer Internship program and as a part of the new N.U.O. (Not Unto Ourselves) civic engagement cohort.

The N.U.O. cohort is an opportunity for any student interning with a non-profit or public sector organization to form a community around Willamette’s beloved motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.”

Under the supervision of Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement Tommy Van Cleave and University Chaplain Rev. I. Pearl Adesanya, Sherman had the opportunity to orchestrate an Anti-Loneliness Campaign that brought together Salem residents of all ages for conversation — in the process, forging connections that have strengthened Willamette’s ties to the broader Salem community.

Sherman has always been community-focused and “big on helping and giving back.” His late mother, a force for change in her neighborhood, was a big part of what shaped those values and led him to Willamette. Sherman said that his mother used to work with the elderly and had a major impact on people’s lives. So, when the opportunity arose for him to pursue a summer internship at Center 50+, he knew immediately that it would be a great fit.

Sherman’s role involved leading the Generations Conversation program, a periodic roundtable discussion that encourages different generations to gather around the dinner table to talk about community needs and to better understand one another. In the midst of those conversations, perspectives are shifted. “Every generation sits down and talks about things we can do to help the world, like about ways we can improve housing or what we can do if we see people needing help in the community,” Sherman shared.

Sherman also supports Center 50+’s Assisted Driver program, which delivers groceries directly to people’s doors. The program also allows seniors with mobility issues to connect socially with their drivers and build friendships, which is what Sherman likes best. “It’s really cool talking to them. There’s so much they don’t know about my generation, and we help each other learn about different things,” he said.

He is also helping the Center forge relationships with other agencies to help people in the community better understand what the Center does. That relationship-building has been instrumental in raising visibility about Willamette’s service orientation.

“Willamette University has been partnering with the Center 50+ for a number of years, and Terry's work has been a catalyst for deepening our institution’s relationship with our aging neighbors,” Van Cleave said. “His leadership has paved the way for students and senior citizens in Salem for years to come.”

Students interested in pursuing a transformative summer internship can contact the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life or the Office of Civic Engagement for more information on the upcoming 2024 program.

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