It was the night before a big exam, and Benjamin Young, then a second-year student at the University of Lethbridge, was burning the midnight oil, struggling to understand a concept that would be covered the next day. It was at that unlikely moment he looked up and saw the professor for the class walking down the hall.
“It was the middle of the night, but I flagged him down and asked him a question. Despite the time, he sat there with me for probably half-an-hour to 45 minutes to help me understand the subject,” recounts Young. “Because of his help, I did great on the test the next day.”
The scene easily ranks beside those in movies like Mr. Holland’s Opus and it will always stick out in Young’s mind. Even so, it was not something that surprised him. Young explains that while the example was memorable, it really was just a reflection of the entire five years he’s had at the U of L.
“It’s that level of dedication you find in professors at the University of Lethbridge. You’re not just a number; most professors make a conscious effort to learn all their students’ names,” he says. “All of the professors I’ve encountered go above and beyond teaching in the classroom. They’re willing to help in whatever aspects a student needs.”
That personal support has also extended to Young as a recipient of various financial awards. Money, he explains, that has enabled him to make the most of his education.
“Scholarships allowed me to focus on my studies and pursue other educational opportunities outside the classroom. If you’re working all the time, it limits what you can do in your undergrad, and you lose out on some of those experiences,” he says.
For Young, some of those opportunities have included six co-ops with companies such as with Western Economic Diversification and Enbridge. He’s researched alongside political science professors, even being credited for his contributions in a published paper, and received a travel award that allowed him to volunteer with Operation Groundswell in East Africa.
“Scholarships really do make a big difference in a student’s life; they gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Scholarships provide a structure that enable you to succeed.”
Young also credits the liberal arts education offered at the U of L as a key factor in his journey.
“The liberal arts requirements forced me to take classes I may never have otherwise taken, such as Great Books Across the Disciplines. Liberal education is a real benefit for undergrads, it gives you a breadth of information and knowledge, and makes you a more well-rounded individual,” says Young.
Young will proudly don a cap and gown at the 2014 Spring Convocation. While the ceremony will officially grant him his degree, it will also be a time to recognize the many people who walked alongside him.
“It will feel pretty good to cross the stage; it’s a real sense of accomplishment. It’s been a lot of work, but my whole undergrad has been a great experience for me,” he says. “The University community as a whole just provides so much support to students in various ways. I found that any time I needed anything, the community was there for me. I’m just really thankful to everyone who had a hand in that.”
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