19 Sep Alumni Board Current Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2016 Scholar Benjamin Swift
Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova.
What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating?
Currently I’m hoping to explore a bit of everything during my first couple years of school, and I have a suspicion that I’ll want to major in near every class I take. However, right now I know that — during school and post-graduation — I want to be an activist. During high school I was really involved in environmental activism, and now I’m looking for ways that I can combine that with social justice. I’m thinking that one way to accomplish these goals could be with law, but we’ll see!
Tell us about what activities, groups, and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them.
I’ve only been at CC for a few weeks, but this past year I was on a gap year in South America. There I traveled with Where There Be Dragons, learning about Bolivian and Peruvian culture and social issues, staying in homestays, and eating way too many potatoes. I then worked as a research assistant with ecologists in Quito, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands, where I had the opportunity to travel deep into the Amazon to collect samples, work at a remote field site and measure thousands of mayflies. I ended my gap year volunteering at an animal rescue center in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where I helped maintain the center and lead bilingual tours. Throughout my year I enjoyed learning about different cultures.
Tell us about an important mentor you have had.
Some of my most influential mentors have been my instructors on my Where There Be Dragons course. They opened my eyes to new parts of the world and new ways of looking at things that I had never considered. This was really influential throughout my gap year and into my time in college.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My English teacher, Charlotte Camp (who was also my Boettcher teacher honoree), once told me to choose a path and don’t look back — whichever option I elect will be the right one. I love that advice to embrace the moment and to realize that there is more than one “right” path to achieving my dreams.
If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?
This question is hard for me. History is so vast and filled with so many interesting people that I don’t think I could ever make a sufficiently informed decision. I think I would choose an average person from history, rather than a famous or influential figure. It would be fascinating to have dinner with a group of Haitians during the late 18th to early 19th century, the time of the Haitian revolution. Haiti is the only country that successfully gained independence through a slave revolt. I visited Haiti this past spring, and, though many Haitians have experienced significant struggle and hardship, they are also remarkably friendly and delightful humans.