Written by Chelsey Schmid
Benjamin Holscher is a senior from Hobart, NY, studying history and business administration. Ben is the founder and director of the non-profit organization A Few Good Men, the president of the Hillsdale chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, an RA at Koon Dorm, a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a leader for the Intervarsity Hillsdale Christian Fellowship, and a student driver for speakers who come to Hillsdale’s campus.
After graduating in May 2014, Ben plans to work as a general manager for several family-owned businesses, including a syrup company and a sealcoating business. He will remain on the Board of Directors for A Few Good Men, and he plans to plant a branch of the non-profit in his community. He also intends to get involved with youth ministry and will get married in June. An outstanding student and leader, Ben speaks on his non-profit and the virtues of Hillsdale College while addressing potential fears of applicants.
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What was your inspiration for starting A Few Good Men?
The inspiration grew out of my volunteering with King’s Kupboard, which is a food pantry, and also from my position as an RA. I started seeing more and more needs working with the food pantry that weren’t being met by organizations in the community. I had to turn people away, not really knowing who to point them to, especially people who needed help with their homes and who just needed a friend – someone to be there for them.
After lots of different conversations, I decided to have a volunteer competition at Galloway Dorm. We logged over 800 volunteer hours in three months. From that experience, we ended up getting a flood of requests from the community. We started asking ourselves, “What are we going to do when the competition ends?” because some of these needs are pretty significant, and we were becoming an important part of those people’s lives.
I decided to start a GOAL Program, and then it grew quickly from one to seven to thirteen crews. Now we have fraternity crews, a baseball crew, and a community crew. It had grown so quickly as a student movement that I had to decide if we were going to remain just a student organization at Hillsdale College or if we were going to expand again and become a non-profit. We decided to do that. Then we came to the point where we had to decide whether we were going to stay a community organization here in Hillsdale or if we wanted to try to build this organization as a model that other communities could transplant, and we decided we wanted to do that. Now, I’ve been getting lots of requests from people who want to do it in their community.
It hasn’t really been a single inspiration; it’s been sort of a process of inspiration, of seeing needs, but more importantly of seeing the power of kindness to change someone’s life and the power of purpose in a student or a community member’s life, and seeing how much of a difference they can make in another person’s future. . . and we can’t really take credit. The beauty of it is that it’s just founded on basic essential principles of Christianity: loving God with all our strength and soul and loving our neighbor as our self.
What are some of your favorite things about Hillsdale?
I think it really starts with the motto: Pursuing Truth, Defending Liberty. The fact that Hillsdale starts on the premise that there is truth automatically sets it apart from the majority of schools in the nation and also the fact that it’s willing to pursue that truth and to defend liberty in such an active way. It is so committed to the fundamental principles of freedom and what it takes to succeed in a republic.
I’ve found that it isn’t just rhetoric or political jargon; it is part of the DNA here. It is part of our ethos; it is part of what we do, and it is making a difference. I see it making a difference. As a student, each one of us can know that we’re part of this pursuit, and we’re part of this defense of what we hold dear. I like that Hillsdale is not afraid to stand on principle, no matter what the consequences, and I think it encourages its students to live a life that is courageous because no matter what the sacrifice has to be, it’s worth making if the cause is just.
I also truly believe that the defense of liberty is not just the defense of political liberty, but it’s a defense of the essential value, the inherent value of human life itself. That is where the pursuit of truth and the defense of liberty will take you and where it has taken me and has taken so many others. That is the big, idealistic reason.
But the people are just so wholesome and inspiring and full of purpose and love. As the Bible says, iron sharpens iron. If you’re going to be sharpened as a person at the school you go to, there have to be friendships that will act as a catalyst to sharpen you, and you find that at Hillsdale in the students and the teachers.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Hillsdale?
I can distinctly remember multiple conversations, and usually you wouldn’t think of a conversation as a waypoint in your life, but I can remember so many conversations with people that have highlighted my time at Hillsdale, whether hilarious or deep or life changing.
One funny story that I like to tell illustrates the spirit of encouragement that Hillsdale has to offer. I had gone to class, put my backpack down, and found out that I didn’t have my Latin books. Dr. Hutchinson was really strict about finishing your homework and being on time, so I kind of panicked a little bit and told my classmate, “I’ve got to go find my books!”
I tore off to get them. Then the clock was chiming the hour as I dashed across the quad, and I kind of expected to be embarrassed as I walked in late or for Dr. Hutchinson to make some remark about it. Instead, as I neared the classroom building, the window shot open, and he stuck his head out the window and was cheering me on and clapping. Then I ran in to a standing ovation; all the students were clapping. It was like he was cheering me on in a race. And it became kind of an analogy for me of my time at Hillsdale because all of the teachers and students are cheering one another on in this race, in this pursuit of higher learning.
What insight do you have for a student who is considering attending Hillsdale College?
Hillsdale is in the business of equipping men and women to be the best that they can be – to be magnanimous men and women who see the needs of those around them and live their lives in service to others. Even though the studies are hard, and perhaps there are things that might be sacrificed, like a thriving metropolitan community, it’s worth the sacrifice. It’s worth the investment. In the end, the most important thing that one can get from an education is a character and a purpose that will guide you for the rest of your life. I’d just say don’t compromise with your fears. Expect great things.
What advice do you have for a student who wants to come to Hillsdale?
If you’re anything like me, first it will look impossible to get accepted, next it will look impossible to get the financial aid you need, and third, it will look impossible to get the grades that you need to stay here. But if you’re willing to work hard (and pray hard) and keep going, you will flourish here, and God will open the doors to get you here and keep you here.
Chelsey Schmid is a junior studying History and German at Hillsdale College. She holds positions in several organizations, including Copy Editor of the Hillsdale Forum Magazine and Social Chair of the German Honorary. Chelsey also volunteers at a local historic home, works as a lifeguard, and dances swing and ballroom.