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BSU graduate elected Mayor of Bath – Bath Spa University

The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath


From Newton Park to the Guildhall: BSU graduate elected Mayor of Bath

Friday, 14 June, 2024

Bath Spa University graduate, Cllr Michelle O’Doherty, has found various avenues to success since she finished her degree, from teaching to publishing to being elected as a Bath Ward Councillor. Now she can add ‘The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath’ to her list. 

Michelle was recently elected as the 797th Mayor of Bath and is the first female BSU graduate to be elected Mayor. She began her term on 1 June, and her first official event took place on 4 June, where she met with colleagues from one of BSU’s partner universities in Ukraine

Michelle spent her time at BSU studying Music and Education and played cello in the University orchestra. She credits BSU’s close-knit community with helping her gain the confidence and keen social skills required to excel in politics as well as her everyday work. Reflecting on her experience, she said: 

“I think because it was quite a small community at Bath Spa, I got to know everybody and learned about people from all different backgrounds. And studying music was also beneficial, because it teaches you to work together with others. You've got to listen and take your cues from other people, so I think I'm quite good at those things.” 

After graduating, Michelle worked as a teacher before switching careers to publishing. She was elected to the Bath and Northeast Somerset Council in 2017 and is thrilled to have been elected as the Mayor of Bath. Talking about how she felt being elected, Michelle said: 

“It was a big honour to be elected Councillor and to represent the community that I’ve lived in for many years, but to be Mayor is like, ‘wow!’ When I arrived in Bath, aged 18 with my cello and a suitcase, I didn't think I'd ever be Mayor of Bath. I never imagined it for one second. I remember seeing the Mayor in the local press doing interesting things and thinking, ‘That looks like an exciting job,’ and now here I am.” 

Councillor Michelle ODoherty, the Mayor of Bath, poses wearing her Mayoral necklace

As Mayor, Michelle is looking forward to meeting and working with people and organisations from across different backgrounds. She also hopes to learn about the links Bath has with other places, and her first official event as Mayor with BSU partner university, Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities (IUEH), was a great place to start. Talking about the event, Michelle said: 

“Meeting with BSU’s colleagues from IUEH in Rivne, Ukraine, was so interesting. I had several conversations today about things like, ‘ooh, we should do this!’ I want my year as Mayor to be meaningful and I want to have an impact, even if it's just a small impact. Today's event was really good, and a really good start. So, yes, more of those!”  

Michelle also hopes to bring her own professionally creative ethos to her role as Mayor, discovering new ways to showcase the city of Bath and its various industries as well as making the most of the creativity and talent of the city’s graduates. 

“Bath is known for its history and heritage, but there are all these industries in the city – such as manufacturing, engineering and publishing – that provide employment and are also important. And we've got amazing graduates from the two universities; we want to keep as much of that talent as we can here in Bath.” 

To that end, Michelle had this advice to share with students and graduates: 

“Embrace every opportunity to develop your skills, both academically and personally. [In my publishing role] I employ a lot of graduates, and one thing I consider when I look at their CVs is, have they done things other than just be a student? Everything you do – whether it’s volunteering, playing in a band, or playing sport – will help you professionally along the line, so make time for those things as well as your studies.” 

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