Lake Superior State University
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Ben Mitchell

Ben Mitchell
Mechanical Engineering '06

Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others. He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.

All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.

His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.

2006 List of Banished Words

SURREAL – One part opiate of the masses, 13 parts overuse. Oddly, news anchor and television small talk is becoming more surreal. “Dreams are surreal, not daily adjectives.” – Tracy from Murray, Ky.

HUNKER DOWN – To brace oneself, in anticipation of media onslaught. Trotted out in reports about everything from politics to hurricanes. “I have a hankering to ban all of this hunkering.” – Kate Rabe Forgach, Fort Collins, Colo.

PERSON OF INTEREST – Found within the context of legal commentary, but seldom encountered at cocktail parties. “People with guns want to talk with you.” – Melissa Carroll from Greensboro, NC. “Does this mean the rest of us are too boring to deal with?” – Patricia Johnson from Mechanicsville, Va.

COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS – A five-dollar phrase on a nickel-errand. Value-added into many higher education mission statements. “Not to be confused with ‘school.'” – Jim Howard from Mishawa, Ind.

UP OR DOWN VOTE – A casualty of today's partisanship. No discussion on this one; the committee just tossed a coin. “I see a bright future for ex-senators as elevator operators.” — Allan Dregseth, Fargo, ND.

BREAKING NEWS – Once it stopped presses. Now it's a lower-intestinal condition brought about by eating dinner during newscasts. “Now they have to interrupt my supper to tell me that Katie Holmes is pregnant.” — Michael Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.

DESIGNER BREED – Many nominators consider this a bastardization of dog breeding. It may be a good line to use on angry neighbors when an un-neutered dog escapes. “When you mate a miniature schnauzer to a toy poodle, it's not a ‘Schnoodle,' it's a mongrel.” – George Bullerjahn, Bowling Green, Ohio.

FEMA – Dedicated to the memory of a great federal agency consigned to the ash heap of parody. “If they don't do anything, we don't need their acronym.” – Josh Hamilton, Tucson, Ariz.

FIRST-TIME CALLER – Preamble often heard on talk radio. “I am serious in asking: who in any universe gives a care?” – Miguel McCormick, Orlando, Fla.

PASS THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU! – Marketing catch phrase that became a lost-leader long ago. “Read: Pass the markup along to you.” – C. W. Estes, Roanoke, Tex.

97% FAT FREE – Adventures in delusion. “Still has 3% fat . . . accept it.” – Andrew Clucas, Canberra, Australia.

AN ACCIDENT THAT DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN – Best-laid mayhem. “This means some accidents need to happen, for whatever reason, I can't figure.” — Thomas Price, Orlando, Fla.

JUNK SCIENCE – Banished from the Marketplace of Ideas. “It's not scientists who are using this phrase so much as the people who practice junk politics.” – Ron LaLonde, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.

GIT-ER-DONE – (Any of its variations) It's overdone. “There's no escaping it. It's everywhere, from TV to T-shirts,” says Amanda Tikkanen of LaGrange, Ind. “Please tell me when we're done with this one.”

DAWG – No designer breed here. Someone should wash out this Spot. “Even parents are starting to use it!” – complains Mrs. Swartz's Fifth Grade Class in Church Road, Va. “This is species confusion.” – Rob Bowers, Santa Clara, Calif. “Don't call me ‘dawg'! I'm not your pet!” – Michael Swartz, Albuquerque, NM.

TALKING POINTS – Cover your ears! “Topics which will please those you want to impress.” – Michele Mooney, Van Nuys, Calif. Joe Wonsetler of Swanton, Ohio, believes the phrase was created after PR staffers stopped attending seminars on how to put a positive ‘spin' on their press releases.

HOLIDAY TREE – Many salvoes were fired during this past season's “war on Christmas.” At the risk of jumping into the breach, the committee feels that “Holiday tree” is a silly name for what most folks hold as a Christmas tree, no matter your preference of religion. Thank goodness we all agree on the first day of winter.

Paramedic with Honors...

Geoff Girolamo

Geoff Girolamo,
Honors Nursing
Grosse Ile, MI

Geoff works as a paramedic for Kinross EMS. During holidays and school breaks he works in the Detroit metro area for Medic One Ambulance and Hart Medical EMS as a paramedic for both agencies. [ more ]

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