Johnny F. Bowman, Jr.

Johnny F. Bowman Jr. ’11 has worn many hats.

Johnny F. Bowman, Jr. ’11 has worn many hats.

“He’s able to seamlessly transition between parts of Harvard that we think are very isolated,” says Eric N. Hysen ’11, current Undergraduate Council Vice President, describing Bowman’s diverse roles as UC President, labor activist, and member of the Spee.

Bowman’s path to the presidency was fairly unconventional; he joined the UC only last fall, the same semester he campaigned for president. But he brought his personality to the position with one of the first e-mails he sent out; a (poorly) Photoshopped version of Hysen and his campaign photo with the duo wearing “Happy New Year” hats.

Humor has been the connecting thread through the many facets of Bowman’s life. Both his parents wrote for Saturday Night Live and his first dream was to be a comedy writer.

That all changed during his early years of college. First, his family was caught up in the 2007-2008 Writers’ Strike. Then he spent a semester of his gap year living with an impoverished family in Guatemala. “He came back changed,” says his father, John F. Bowman Sr. ’80. An internship with a labor union in Los Angeles was the final push; he returned to campus his sophomore year ready to dedicate himself to labor advocacy.

But, says Bowman Jr., “Labor activism is tough; you yell and scream and march around a lot. I realized it would make my life easier if I just became president of the UC.”

Despite his new path, Bowman has not left comedy entirely behind. He says his idol is his roommate, Tyler G. Hall ’11 because, “He’s the funniest person I know.”

Hall offers another reason, “Johnny’s always wanted to be as tall as I am.”

Bowman’s mother, Shannon C. Gaughan Bowman ’81 also highlighted her son’s “extreme compassion,” describing Bowman’s attentive and patient care during her final, difficult pregnancy. It was his humor, she says, that helped her to relax and pull through.

“That’s the most important skill to have in life,” she says. “I feel like, at the end of the day, a sense of humor is what keeps us sane.”