By Nick Cardinale
PITTSBURGH, Pa.- Ben Smith, newly appointed President of Penn State New Kensington’s (PSNK) Student Government Association (SGA), sits down to talk about his life, experiences, and why he chose to be President of the SGA at his campus.
Smith was born in Middletown, Ohio and lived there until he was five years old. His parents and him then moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he spent little time before moving to the Alle-Kiski area. His family then settled into a home in Kittaning, where he has lived for the past eleven years.
Smith decided to attend PSNK in March 2005, which was his senior year of high school. PSNK was Smith’s first and only choice for furthering his education.
“I don’t know why, but it just struck me to come here,” Smith said.
Smith has been a student at PSNK since the fall 2006. He is majoring in Business Marketing Management, and this is his fifth semester.
While Smith was really involved in his high school’s associations and clubs, he just wanted to stick to his studies when he arrived at the campus. When he got there, things changed. He decided he wanted to join a club and became the vice-president of PSNK’s GIG Club.
In the spring of 2007,the president of the club couldn’t attend the president’s network meeting so Smith stepped in her place.
“That was the meeting where I really got the spark again, and really wanted to be involved,” Smith said.
Smith said that after that meeting “deep down” he wanted to be the president of the SGA, but didn’t voice his opinion until the next year. He also said that he knew the current president was doing a great job, and that she would probably be running again, but that didn’t deter him. In 2008, Smith became the next SGA president.
There had been some ongoing speculation at the campus that the SGA really doesn’t do anything for the students. Smith was asked, what does your Association actually do, and how is the SGA helping a student. “That’s a great question. We don’t ever want anybody to think that we’re just faces, but we got to prove that too,” Smith replied.
Smith then listed a number of things that his association does. He stated that the SGA oversees all of PSNK’s other clubs and provides funding for them. They also have ongoing relationships with alumni and faculty of the school, to help with anything that may arise or need taken care of internally. They are also the liaison between PSNK campus and University Park, which is Penn State’s main campus.
“We bring the opinions of this campus to University Park,” Smith said.
Smith stated that the SGA does a lot of community service. In order for a club to maintain status it must do at least one community service related activity a year.
“It’s not a lot to ask,” Smith said. “To be a part of the community, you know, you got to help out. That is our responsibility as citizens.”
Smith said he takes pride in what his association does.
“I try not to be to prideful because I know without the rest of the students we wouldn’t have anything to do,” Smith stated. “Also I give all my respect to the other SGA executives, they help me out and hold me up. If I need something done they are right there on it.”
Smith said that 10 years down the road, PSNK would still be where it is and will flourish.
“I think there are a lot of things going on here,” Smith said. “We got a new chancellor and he really wants to bring things to the forefront.” He added that the SGA has an integral role with the development of new ideas for the campus, and he is very happy to be working with the new chancellor.
As President of the SGA, Smith works hard to achieve his goals and the clubs everyday.
“I want to be remembered as somebody who really cared about the students more than I cared about myself,” Smith said. “Someone who gave there all to give the students a voice.”