Ben Skross — a sophomore studying health science at the Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences — spends most of his time with friends, studying, and at the Community Service Center. Sounds like a normal college student… right? Ben goes above and beyond normal though; his work at the Community Service Center has impacted so many students and he continues to make the BU community a more welcoming place for all!
Ben is from a small town in Pennsylvania and chose to attend BU for all the opportunities available through scholarships, alumni, and clubs. What he didn’t expect to stumble upon was the ample amount of opportunities that would be available at the Community Service Center.
The First Year Student Outreach Program (FYSOP) is a BU program that has run for 26 years and takes place every August for a week before classes begin. FYSOP invites first-year students at BU — freshman and transfers — to move in a week early and participate in community service in and around the greater Boston area. Students mainly run FYSOP and a select few are chosen to stay over the summer to plan the whole program with the title of FYSOP Coordinators. These coordinators interview potential students to be staff members for the week of FYSOP and they coordinate with community partners when groups will visit and what they will do.
Ben participated in FYSOP as a freshman, specifically to move in early because he really wasn’t sure what experience he would get out of it. But the experience he got became a driving factor in everything he does at BU now. While reminiscing about his FYSOP experience as a freshman, Ben said “the FYSOP experience held a lot of symbolism to how my first year went. It really made BU feel like home and I was able to find a bunch of close friends that I still have a year and a half later.”
His experience as a freshman is the reason why he decided to apply to be a FYSOP Coordinator. Ben felt that if there was more common ground between the leadership experience, he could facilitate his peers as staff rather than the first-years, which is why he decided to apply to be a coordinator. When asked if he was surprised he got the position his answer was: “Absolutely! It is a really tricky application with lots of steps and you are unsure of where you stand the whole time. I was definitely hoping to get offered the position but in no way was I expecting it. Of course, I’m extremely glad I got it though!”
He described his summer experience in three words: transformative, compelling, and tiring (but rewarding). Ben was able to learn about himself in so many ways over the summer, especially how he communicates and retains relationships and his leadership ability.
His adventures as a FYSOP coordinator led him to apply to be a chair for the Community Service Center’s Alternative Service Breaks (ASB). As a freshman, Ben was a coordinator for an ASB trip to Harper’s Ferry and absolutely loved it! After being a FYSOP Coordinator, Ben felt ready for another challenge. “As an ASB Coordinator last year, I saw the effects the chairs had facilitating the experiences for everyone and I wanted a role in ASB that I was extremely passionate about, which is why I became the Education and Social Justice Chair for ASB 2019.”
For Ben, the most exciting part about planning ASB is seeing the chairs’ and coordinators’ passions and willingness come alive in the meetings. He said, “Everyone is so excited about their trips and communities they are going to!” Ben himself will be attending an ASB trip to Chicago this year and certainly cannot wait!
In his future endeavors here at BU, Ben is planning on studying abroad in Australia during the spring of his junior year and eventually would like to be a program manager for FYSOP or take up an undergrad intern position for the Community Service Center. After graduation, however, Ben is planning on grad school and hoping to attend a direct entry nurse practitioner program with the eventual goal to work in pediatrics!
When asked for his advice to younger students, he said, “I think many people are too worried that they aren’t doing enough compared to other students, but, honestly, it comes down to what you are willing to put yourself out there for and what you can personally handle. For me, I have to have a full plate to keep me focused, but everyone is going at their own pace and that’s totally fine. I promise you will figure it out.”
If you want to have an amazing spring break experience, sign up for an ASB trip here and if you are looking for a reason to get back on campus early, think about all the opportunities FSYOP offers here!