By Amelia Kibbe '17
March 17, 2016
Like so many other Bonnies, junior Ben Collins grew up listening to stories over and over again about the many adventures his family members experienced while studying at St. Bonaventure University.
And so, when he started visiting potential schools, Collins, a Glens Falls native, made sure to put St. Bonaventure at the top of his list.
“My visit to St. Bonaventure was something like no other school I visited,” he said. “It was the first and only school that treated its prospective students like they were the primary focus for a given day. They truly allowed you to feel a sense of value, allowing you to feel as though they cared less about having you attend St. Bonaventure and rather what was best for you as an individual.”
He added he knew St. Bonaventure was the right place for him, even though he didn’t have a set-in-stone idea of where he wanted to go with his career.
“Coming to St. Bonaventure, I was an undecided business major,” Collins said. “I had an idea that business was something I was interested in but had no idea what [in business] exactly interested me.”
Through a friend, Collins said he learned of the on-campus club Students in Money Management (SIMM). This friend suggested Collins attend one of the group’s meetings, and during those first few weeks as a new member, Collins realized he wanted to be a finance major.
Since then, Collins has continued his work in the business field both at St. Bonaventure and with other companies. Along with SIMM, he also belongs to the Gubbio Leadership program as part of ENACTUS and has joined the club on its annual service trip to the Bahamas, he said.
He volunteers with Special Olympics of New York, and in addition to organizing the university’s annual Polar Plunge and Olympic Torch teams, he has raised more than $2,500 for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Last year, he served as the account planner for St. Bonaventure’s chapter of the American Advertising Agency (AAF), where he lead both the group’s research and strategic plan.
Two summers ago, Collins worked as a real estate services intern for the Corning Credit Union in Corning, New York. He spent last year working as a marketing intern for the Enchanted Mountains Federal Credit Union in nearby Allegany, he said.In the summer of 2016, Collins will intern in the finance department of Corning Inc., a global Fortune 500 company.
“Attending a smaller university allows you to take advantage of opportunities that may not be readily available at a larger school,” he said. “These types of extracurricular activities are not only enjoyable but also allow you to experience lessons that may not always be present in the classroom.”
As Dr. Paul Barretta, the chair of the marketing department at St. Bonaventure, explained, Collins has shown both his business experience and expertise in his work outside of the classroom. Last fall, Barretta was introduced to Collins through Collins’s work as the account planner for AAF.
“He’s a leader of the group,” said Barretta, who organizes the research efforts for AAF. “His contribution is that he is one of the most innovative, forward-thinking and critically thinking students in that group.”
Barretta continued to explain that at one of the earlier meetings, the group had a discussion about advertising and emotional attachments to brands. Barretta mentioned to the group about an academic journal article that pertained to the subject.
“[Collins] told me at the meeting that he thought the article sounded interesting and he wanted to learn more about it,” Barretta said. “So I sent him the article and I didn’t really think any more about it. He later got in touch with me about the article and told me what he learned from it. A lot of times I will send things to students, and I don’t really expect them to read them that thoroughly. But he read it carefully and go so much out of it that he made suggestions about how we can use what they found in that article in our research in AAF. To me, that was just such a high level of thinking. I was tremendously impressed.”
The same driven work ethic that Collins expresses in the classroom and professional world follows him onto the cross country course, he added.
Collins, a lead runner on the Division I men’s cross country team, serves as team co-captain for a second season this fall.
“It’s [Division I athletics] a demanding—but also rewarding—experience,” he said. “Putting in ample hours each week along with a full course load will test how well you can truly manage your time. However, there is no better feeling than competing with a group of teammates who share this same struggle each day.”
But even between club meetings, practices and classes, Collins said he finds the time to try the fun activities his fellow Bona family members have always told him about.
“My favorite thing is to enjoy others’ company,” he said. “It may sound vague, I know, but whether it’s a basketball game, a run around Allegany or Olean or an event in the Skeller, I always have a great time with the entire student body. The size of St. Bonaventure allows you to meet and connect with so many students in the community.”
But, as Collins explained, he also enjoys the connections he makes with alumni.
“Not to mention, the alumni connection is something that needs to be addressed,” he said. “The alumni are fully devoted to helping their fellow Bonnies in whatever ways they can. It’s because of alumni that I have been able to have such great opportunities such as internships, networking opportunities, etc.”
He added he hopes to have opportunities to work with more alumni as he graduates and enters the business field in May 2017.
“I haven’t fully determined what exactly it is that I want to do post-graduation,” Collins said. “What I can say is the organizations and clubs at St. Bonaventure have helped to point me in the correct direction. Although I don’t have my career path fully figured out, I am confident that the university will help me chose the correct direction.”
And he hopes future Bonnies get the same chance he had nearly four years ago.
“Take an afternoon, day or even weekend and visit St. Bonaventure,” he said. “I promise you the school atmosphere, or what people call the “Bona Bubble,” is something each prospective student needs to experience. Students, faculty and alumni can only say so much. It’s time you come see what everyone is talking about.”
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