Ben Lord almost didn’t go to St. Thomas University.
He was registered at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton for business.
“I had a lot of pressure from my parents to go into business and they really wanted me to go,” said Lord. “At first I went along with it.”
“I was miserable. I was distressed over going because I just had absolutely no desire. It didn’t feel like it fit me.”
It was March and the week scholarship applications were due at St. Thomas. It was Friday and the scholarships were due Monday.
“On Friday, I went home and said ‘Mom and Dad, I’m applying to St. Thomas University,’” said the 6’5, brown-haired student.
Lord’s parents took him to campus on Monday and hand delivered his application because there wasn’t enough time to post it.
“After that, even my mom said ‘you were so much more excited after you made that decision to go to STU.’ It was like a weight was lifted.”
Lord said STU was a much better fit for him because of his interest in social justice.
“STU being a liberal arts institution that is grounded in social justice certainly spoke to me as a person. And it really drew me in.”
Now in his fourth year, Lord knows he made the right decision to attend STU.
It all started in Welcome Week.
“I came from a school where I graduated with a class of 49 people. I came here and I wasn’t living on campus. I was nervous. I came to Welcome Week and I felt like I was at home,” said Lord, who is from outside of Harvey in Prince William.
“I was welcomed. I was so excited. And after that, I knew that I had to be involved in life at STU.”
His involvement at STU led him to receive the prestigious Tom McCann Award recently from St. Thomas. The award is given to a graduating student who best portrays the spirit of the university through his or her contributions to the university.
Lord, 21, said he was shocked when they called his name at the graduate’s dinner.
“The walk up to the podium was certainly one of the most difficult 20 feet of my entire life. I felt like I was stumbling a little,” he said. “It was really a big surprise.”
Lord is the epitome of spirit at St. Thomas.
He has been involved with both on-campus and off-campus activities. He was the welcome week chair in his third year and he has been involved with students union in many capacities, most recently as activities coordinator and as president of worker’s union.
Lord also volunteered for Partners For Youth, which organizes Making Waves, which is a healthy teen relationship program. It’s what got him connected with the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
The English honours and Economics major said he didn’t have to think about getting involved, he just wanted to.
“It was funny hearing that speech…because I didn’t realize I had done all of that.”
Lord said he’s fortunate he found things he is passionate about.
“When you’re passionate about something, you work at it,” he said.
Lord said through his involvement the students union’s worker’s union he also became passionate about the labour movement.
“I’m motivated to make things better for other people,” said Lord. “If there’s one thing that I can see consistently throughout all of those activities it’s making a difference for someone, whether it’s making someone feel welcome on-campus or teaching the value of healthy relationships or creating awareness of the struggles of the working class, there’s work to be done and I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to help out.”
Lord hopes to continue to do that by attending law school at UNB Faculty of Law in September. Although he can’t specialize in a particular type of law in the three-year program, Lord hopes to one day become a labour lawyer.
Lord said what he will miss most about STU is the people.
“There is a sense of comfort walking around campus,” he said. “I can’t walk around without seeing someone I know and there’s great comfort in that. St. Thomas is my home.”
Lord said he encourages future students to try new things and get involved in university life.
“In my high school, I didn’t play basketball. I was by no means popular. And then you come to university and you find yourself and you find that groove and you find what you’re passionate about and you find friends who will last a lifetime.”
“Don’t be afraid to try anything and everything,” he said. “Put yourself out there, because at the end of the day, you don’t know what you’ll love and you don’t know what you’ll end up doing.”