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Ben McNamee

  • Hometown: Wallingford, CT
  • Major: College Student Personnel
  • Graduation Year: 2014

Why did you choose this degree program?

Pretty much no one starts their college career saying “I want to be a Student Affairs Educator”, and I am no exception. I had some really great mentors at Southern Connecticut State University where I did my undergraduate work. They made me realize that my passion I once had to teach history could be redirected and I could have a really huge impact if I work with students at a college campus.

What inspired you to pursue your career choice?

I originally thought that I wanted to teach history. Once I got deeply involved on campus through Orientation, Student Government, and Peer Mentoring I knew that I wanted to create experiences similar to these for students. I am a key example of how mentorship can change a path. I was a bad high school student, and an awkward freshman. My mentors saw potential in me and helped me to develop to be the person I am today. I want to be able to provide that mentorship for students in my career.

Why did you choose URI?

I chose URI because the program had everything I was looking for; engaging faculty, a cohort model, and an opportunity to gain experiences from different higher education institutional types through internship experiences. Rhode Island is fantastic for that because you cannot drive twenty minutes without going past another excellent school.

What has been the best part of your studies at URI?

The CSP program is set up so we all learn from each other as much as we learn from the faculty. Our faculty members really facilitate that process well so that learning occurs in multiple ways throughout our program. Even when we are stressed out with projects and work, it is reframed for us into a learning opportunity.

What’s been the best part of your whole experience at URI?

Academic Advising. I am fortunate enough to have a position on campus where I can serve as an academic advisor for students in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. Helping students navigate their path to success is really fulfilling.

What has surprised you most about URI?

Coming from a somewhat smaller institution, I was impressed with the fact that there is so much individual support for students here. The Student Affairs staff on campus is excellent at making the campus feel a lot smaller than it is.

What do you think of the faculty at URI?

The faculty that I have had in class are engaging, encouraging, supportive, and challenging. I feel that I am learning not only important content, but I have learned to view the world through a whole new framework.

What do you consider the biggest strengths of your particular program at URI?

There is a strong emphasis on theory to practice. As I stated above, because Rhode Island is so small we are able to get experiences at three very different schools during our program and that is different than many similar schools in the area. We take the frameworks we learn in the class and then go out into the field and figure out how to use them.

What kind of internships, experiential learning opportunities, or real-life experiences have you had?

I have had a semester long, 150 hour practicum at the Community College of Rhode Island working on special projects for their Vice President for Student Services. I am currently in my year long, 300 hour internship at the Rhode Island School of Design with their Center for Student Involvement.

What’s your “Big Idea”?

My big idea is to make sure that every student that I work with has the tools, skills, and confidence to take on whatever they put their mind to. All of my energy and passion is poured into this idea of student success.

What would you say to someone undecided about where to go to school for your particular major/program?

There are a number of things you should do before entering a program for Student Affairs. Make sure you talk to students in the program and find out what they like and do not like about their experience. Make sure that you can have multiple experiences during you time in the program. This field is built around real life experiences, so get out there and try new things. Finally, make sure that the faculty has their attention on the Masters level students. Graduate school is a lot of work, so you need to be sure that the faculty can help you through any struggles you may have. There is a sense of “fit” that comes when you visit a campus and talk to people. Once you feel that “fit”, as I did with URI, you will know you have made the right choice.

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