Scholarship winners: Where are they now?
Part of a series of updates on past NIRSA Foundation Scholarship winners
Ben Smith, 2007 Foundation Scholarship recipient
The NIRSA Foundation is committed to educational and scholarly projects that enhance leadership development within campus programs. Each year the NIRSA Foundation offers student and professional scholarships so that recipients can attend various NIRSA educational programs.
This year, the NIRSA Foundation has awarded scholarships to 17 students and 3 professionals. Since 1994, the Foundation has awarded 221 scholarships totaling more than $58,000 to enhance the professional and career aspirations of our Student and Professional Members.
From time to time, the Foundation Board will track some of our scholarship recipients to get an idea of how their lives and careers have turned out.
This month, we caught up with Ben Smith. Ben received a 2007 NIRSA Foundation Scholarship while a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech.
NIRSA Foundation: What are you doing now?
Ben: I am currently the Director of Intramural Sports at the University of Virginia (UVA) and started there right after leaving Virginia Tech.
NIRSA Foundation: What NIRSA activity or event did you use your scholarship to attend? (In general, student scholarships are used to cover the cost of registration fees for the NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Exposition. Certain NIRSA Foundation Scholarships and Endowed Scholarships allow the scholarships to be used at other NIRSA educational events.)
Ben: I used the scholarship to attend the 2007 Annual Conference in Minneapolis. There, I interviewed for what is now my current position at UVA.
NIRSA Foundation: What was your career track from the time you received the scholarship to now?
Ben: Since the Conference, I graduated from Virginia Tech and became fulltime at UVA. I now oversee the intramural sports program for the Department of Intramural-Recreational Sports.
NIRSA Foundation: Would you have been able to attend the 2007 Conference without the Foundation scholarship?
Ben: Yes, I probably would have. However, the scholarship definitely helped me.
NIRSA Foundation: What was your favorite experience from Minneapolis that you would like to share?
Ben: I enjoyed the Foundation scholarship recipients’ breakfast and getting the opportunity to meet with the Foundation Board as well as with the other scholarship recipients.
NIRSA Foundation: Winning a scholarship means different things to different recipients. What did your scholarship mean to you and why? Do you feel it had a significant impact on your professional development? Do you believe that your Foundation scholarship helped further your career?
Ben: It meant a lot that the hard work I had been putting in during my Graduate Assistantship was recognized by the NIRSA Foundation and appreciated by those I worked with every day, as they were the ones who nominated me. The scholarship allowed me to meet many new individuals within the field during the Conference and definitely will allow me to make future connections.
NIRSA Foundation: Any advice for our current students and future professionals?
Ben: Oftentimes in our field we may not receive the material recognition that we deserve, but the true recognition shows through in the smiling faces of the students and professionals that we impact on a daily basis. Hard work does pay off and the students will love you for it.
NIRSA Foundation: What’s on the horizon for you?
Ben: I’m looking forward to continuing to make an impact on the students that I interact with daily, not only those that are working in the field, but those who are out there participating.
Check back with each issue of the NIRSA Know to see what some of our former scholarship recipients are doing. We would like to hear from our former recipients as well. Please contact Bill Crockett and let him know where you are and what you are doing. A future NIRSA Know will have an updated matrix of our recipients.
In addition to the scholarships the NIRSA Foundation awards, the Foundation supports the Career Opportunities Center at the Annual Conference and the Recreational Sports Journal. Please support the NIRSA Foundation and our profession.