LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 28, 2017) — Want to get to know the people behind some of the biggest student leadership positions on campus? We did, too! The "see blue." #selfie series on UKNow lets student leaders from across campus tell us a little bit more about themselves and their organizations. Up this week, Student Government President-Elect Ben Childress.
Meet Ben Childress, Student Government Association president-elect for the 2017-18 school year. Childress claims Lexington as home and never considered anywhere besides the University of Kentucky for his college experience. This want-to-be cowboy has a passion for serving and enjoys seeing the impact students leave on our campus. Learn more about Childress in his "see blue." #selfie!
UKNow: What year are you?
Ben Childress: I am a junior.
UK: Where are you from?
BC: Lexington, Kentucky.
UK: What are you studying?
BC: Economics. That's it for any major or minor, but I'm also part of the Gaines Fellowship that lets me broadly study the humanities.
UK: When did you get involved with Student Government Association?
BC: My freshman year. I ran and won a spot for freshman senate. The glory days…
UK: So, tell me a little about your position now?
BC: I have served as vice president for the 2016-17 school year. Now, I am president-elect. The big role I will do as president is serve as a student representative on the Board of Trustees. I am really excited for this. It's going to be challenging and a lot of fun. As a student, this is an opportunity to make a big impact and make sure student voices are heard to our university. As president, I'll also be leading the charge for our vision and momentum of SGA. We have new positions and programs we are trying to implement this year, I'm excited for it, and I have a great team of people working on it!
UK: So out everything you just mentioned, what are you most excited for?
BC: I think one thing I'm excited for is that I’ve been involved since my freshman year and I’ve worked on a lot of things and seen other people work on things. This is a position to really see those things through. It’s also such a rare and cool opportunity to be working with administrators and students across the campus, and I think there’s a lot of potential for what we can work on. I’m also excited to see who ends up on the executive team and get to know our new senators and see the ways they leave their impact on Senate and the campus. Especially right now and next year, it’s a huge time for our university. There’s a lot of transition. I’m excited to get to be in the thick of that and lead the student voice that will impact our campus for a long time.
UK: What is your favorite thing to do in Lexington?
BC: I like hanging out with family and friends – catching up with people. That's what I like to do. I'm like "hey, let's get dinner!" I like going to the original Common Grounds – it's great. Native Café is awesome too. I also love to go to Keeneland, and I'm pretty involved in Tates Creek Presbyterian Church. Though it's not Lexington, I visit a North Carolina Young Life camp called Carolina Point often. It's a hobby of mine.
UK: What made you decide to come to UK?
BC: Well I wasn't going to Louisville. I grew up in Lexington and both of my parents went to UK as well as my sister and my aunts and uncles. I grew up a huge Cats fan and in and around the campus. I have two brothers and my sister, so financially I was going to go in-state, and there was no way I would go anywhere else. UK was the only school I applied to.
UK: What was it about SGA that stood out to you the most your freshman year?
BC: When I got to UK I saw these ways to get involved in different communities, but they are all separate from each other. SGA was a group of all these leaders from across campus getting together and discussing issues and right away I wanted to see what it was about. I wanted to learn from those leaders. I saw a lot of people that were servants and loved people and working with people, and I wanted to be like that. That's why I got involved – and stayed involved. You work on a lot and you don't always get to see the impact, but the relationships you build are a huge part of life and college, and I have met some of the most incredible people through SGA.
UK: Are there any faculty or staff members at UK who you've looked up to in the past three years?
BC: I think, first off, President Capilouto is awesome. Every time I hear him speak I am so impressed. He talked to our freshmen during a Leadership Development Program meeting and the advice he gave them was the opposite of what I feel like the world is telling them. Dr. Capilouto told them to be servants and to have fun. They asked him what the biggest piece of advice he had for them would be and he said to have fun. These freshmen don't need to have their lives figured out. His advice to our students and how he carries himself is incredible.
UK: What are some of your favorite things that SGA offers?
BC: I have two. The first is the childcare grants that we do every year. That his close to home, and I love getting to work with that and seeing the direct impact that has on our UK community. The grants go to those pursuing an education while raising children. Getting to lighten their load – I love that. Also, the funding we do for student organizations is something I like. SGA empowers orgs to pursue their interests and things they are passionate about. Seeing the passion these different people across campus have is awesome.
UK: When you were 5, what did you want to be when you grew up?
BC: I wanted to be a karate master. Now, I want to be a cowboy.
UK: Did you do anything for Spring Break?
BC: I went on the Young Life spring break, which I've done all three years of college. I drove to Arizona and back. It was probably 25 or 26 hours total. We hung out at the Young Life camp and went hiking at the Grand Canyon and Sedona. I got to visit one of my friends who moved to Arizona, too!
UK: Who do you have winning the NCAA Championship on your bracket this year?
BC: Kentucky. And I have Michigan, Arizona and UVA in my final four.
UK: Where is your favorite place at UK to "see blue."?
BC: I love Bowman's Den because you see everybody there. I think it's a picture of community. It's a lot of fun! I also love Gatton.
UK: What is your favorite memory thus far from being at the university?
BC: Generally speaking, I have gotten to meet and become friends with some of the most incredible people. It has been wonderful. The professors and mentors and friends – this place has been so good to me. I owe this campus and the people here so much. UK basketball has also been a ton of fun. We cram into a house to watch the game with like 60 other guys. I love that. DanceBlue too – it's been crazy! I have done it for three years and it's so cool.
UK: You wake up tomorrow and you are the president of the U.S. – what's the first thing you do?
BC: The issue on my heart is education and education reform in the U.S. I think it's an important issue, and I think that'd be at the top of my list. When you talk about the future of America, you have to talk about our kids and our education system and what works and what needs to be improved. I would see what I could do to assist that.
"see blue." #selfies appears every other Tuesday on UKNow. Know a student leader we should feature? Contact Rebecca Stratton at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate someone.