For Ben Smith, who worked part-time as a tutor, it was the recognition that his experiences helping others in the Centralia College math lab as a tutor was something he really enjoyed. He has turned that experience into his chosen career.
Smith, a 2003 Centralia College graduate, was a Running Start student from Toledo High School. He is now the Tutoring Coordinator for Student Support Services at Binghamton University (New York) where he manages a staff of over 30 people. He coordinates and provides tutoring and supplemental instruction in math and the sciences as well as academic, personal, and career counseling to students. He is working in a field that is essential for guiding students but also one that brings a lot of personal satisfaction for Smith.
“It was my time at Centralia College that helped me decide to enter the field of Learning Assistance. Before Centralia College, I had never tutored,” Smith noted. He stepped into the position anxious to help others. “After I got my bachelor’s degree I looked back on the things I had most enjoyed and realized that starting with the math lab, tutoring was something I had embraced and wanted to always do. I started my own tutoring business, and eventually wound up running a tutoring center at a university,” Smith said.
He is another in a long line of individuals who credit Centralia College with its great track record of helping men and women find their calling.
“I really had no idea what college would mean,” said Smith. “My family didn’t know. Centralia College provided me with an introduction to college life without a complete immersion in residential college culture. My largest class still only had 50 people in it, as opposed to the 450-plus I would later experience when I transferred.” Centralia College set the standard for his expectations of a college experience. “And it set that bar high!” he said.
Outside of the classroom, Smith was a member of the Science Club, math and writing centers tutoring teams, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the college’s honor society.
“Members of the Centralia College faculty were the first to show me that there was more to education than just memorizing factoids and regurgitating them on tests. I first learned to truly study at Centralia College,” he said. “And the experience I got working with fellow students on math homework, and in the inaugural quarter of the Writing Center, was something I have never forgotten.” Smith said that Centralia College was the perfect launching point for his academic career as well as his adult life. “I enjoyed not just feeling like a statistic, but knowing that people truly cared about my well being.”
Centralia College prepared him well to take on the challenges of a larger university and also life, lessons he wants to pass on to people who might not recognize the value that Centralia College offers.
“Without Centralia College, I might not have completed college. As the first person in my family to graduate college, I can tell you that poverty and lack of experience with college are big stumbling blocks. Had I gone straight to a four-year school, I’m not convinced I would have survived my freshman year. Centralia provided the perfect environment for learning about college level academics and what it means to be a good student,” Smith said.
“My experience at Centralia College expanded my thinking and opened up my perception of the world, better preparing me to become a productive member of society at large,” he said.