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Student Spotlight: Zachary Dougherty, One of Insider NJ’s 2021 Millennial Leaders

Zachary Dougherty, a junior studying History and Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, has recently been included for the fourth time in a row in Insider NJ’s Insider 100: Millennials list.

Dougherty has always possessed an affinity for public service and government, which led him to pursue this career. He believes his majors are preparing him to be the best leader he can be while strengthening his capacity for compassion and global understanding.

He is a very active member on campus, belonging to several clubs including the Political Science club, Democratic Club, and the Model United Nations Team. He said, “The faculty have encouraged me to explore unique educational opportunities outside of the classroom…[these clubs] have sharpened my cooperative skills while allowing me to meet so many new friends on campus.”

All the work he is doing to create a positive change within his community has landed him on the 2021 NJ Insider’s Millenials List. This list recognizes millennial leaders who are making a difference in their community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dougherty explained that in order to make the list, a person is nominated by other experienced groups and individuals who are active in state politics. The editorial team at Insider NJ keeps an eye out for young folks who are influencing public policy, Dougherty said.

He was nominated the first time as a high school student and was ranked within the top 10. Dougherty said, “The first year I made the list, I received a congratulatory notification by the First Lady of New Jersey. That was a cool way to find out for the first time.”

With his most recent nomination, Dougherty shared his excitement and mentioned how he didn’t think himself worthy of this recognition. “It’s a tremendous honor to be ranked amongst so many inspiring individuals in our state.”

One big project he has been involved with is his work on gun safety reform and civic engagement, and felt it was right to represent his generation especially during this time when this generation’s voices need to be heard.

Not only is Dougherty involved with gun safety reform, but he is also working on a statewide effort to establish a legislative youth council. “I worked on drafting State Senate Bill 3164, which would provide a forum for the youth of this State to advise the Legislature and its committees, commissions, and task forces on the perspectives, opinions, needs, development, and welfare of the youth of the State,” Dougherty explained. This bill would allow the younger generation to participate in the democratic process and is currently being voted on in the State Senate.

He is also involved in a task force to identify and combat the rise in youth biased hate crimes across the county and is primarily focused in Ocean County. Dougherty is working to create a county-wide, student government-led assembly to address this issue.

Throughout these experiences, Dougherty is thankful for every professor and peer he has crossed paths with so far at Monmouth. “Throughout my formative journey at Monmouth University, I’ve undergone a challenging transition to leadership, but I’ve learned so many innovative ideas from my own classmates,” he said.

He added that Joseph Patten, Ph.D., is a professor that he can turn to for any advice, and has enjoyed courses like New Jersey History with Richard Veit, Ph.D. When asked about his future, it was simple: continue his passion for state and local politics. The native Ocean County resident aspires to run for the New Jersey State Legislature, and hopes to make this dream a reality after graduation.

Richard Veit, Ph.D., Interim Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Professor of Anthropology, is not surprised to hear that Dougherty made it on Insider NJ’s Millennials. He said, “Zachary Dougherty brought a real passion for the topic to the class and was outstanding.”

How can this student be achieving such great milestones in such a short amount of time? Well, Dougherty follows one great piece of advice—“Don’t be afraid to show up where you’re not invited. No one is going to take you or your generation seriously until you put the work in. You certainly don’t have to be the smartest or the loudest person in the room. Be the leader who brings out the best strengths in everyone.”