The Outstanding first-years presents a profile of one first year student each week, summarizing their successes up to this point in their college experience. The young students featured on this column have displayed exceeding academic performance and on-campus involvement, along with contributing to the campus community in a positive way. For the first edition of this column, first-year Ben Connolly was interviewed.
Ben Connolly is best known around campus as a challenge seeker. Throughout the first few weeks of the 2021 fall semester, Ben has gotten involved and taken every opportunity that has been presented towards him, resulting in a long list of student involvement that many would call “Drake Busy.”
Most students that reside within the Carpenter residence hall may recall Connolly’s name from a recent student election for hall president. In this election, Connolly was able to connect with countless students in Carpenter, creating new friendships and bonds. The election concluded with Connolly being named Vice President of Carpenter Hall Executive Council, yet what he valued most was the constant support from his newfound friends, the majority of which he had only known for a few weeks.
“The small, yet welcoming Drake community resonated with me as both inviting and supportive just in the festivities of Welcome Week, and in the span of two weeks, I grew to know my whole residence hall floor and others in class,” Connolly said.
The resume does not stop here though, as Connolly is involved with several other on-campus opportunities as well. Connolly is currently a member of the Brochal Chords, Drake Choir, the Honors Program, the Adams leadership institute and Drake Theatre People, and he is a Musician and Cantor at St. Catherine’s. It’s safe to say that Connolly does not shy away from becoming “Drake Busy.”
Connolly has found early success in his academics as well, holding straight A’sthrough the first 3 weeks of classes, well reflective of his 3.82 high school GPA. That high school GPA was a prime factor in leading Connolly to be a current Alumni Scholarship semifinalist, Balanced Man Scholarship semifinalist and a Trustee Scholar.
“This high school transition has been critical in discovering there is no longer a need for me to overcommit my time; there is always a time to relax and a time to get involved,” Connolly said. “And the getting involved part? Well, that’s where the passions and striking a balance come in.”
While Connolly has found great success up to this point in the semester, he recognizes that the toughest part of starting fresh in a brand new community is becoming a true member of that community. Connolly said the “overwhelming sense of community” was the primary influence on his positive adjustment to Drake life. This sense of community seems to be a driving factor in the early successes of all Drake students, as the connections all students make are crucial to building their on-campus life.
When asked to give advice to first-year students who are struggling to make the adjustment to on-campus life, Connolly said “Whether people realize it or not, everyone seeks to have meaningful relationships and connections with those around them; that’s why the college environment is perpetually grounded in togetherness.”
Connolly then went on to say, “Stay present with your commitments … and all bets are off when it comes to meeting new people. Drake people are approachable. They want to get to know you… so let them.”
Ben Connolly is just one example of the many success stories blooming within Drake’s campus, exemplifying and cementing all that makes Drake University an extraordinary place to be.