Benjamin Rowles named student marshal for the College of the Liberal Arts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At Penn State's May 5 spring commencement ceremony, 22 graduating seniors will represent the College of the Liberal Arts as student marshals. Approximately 1,400 undergraduates will receive their degrees at the event, which will be livestreamed at www.commencement.psu.edu/media/live/ at 6:30 p.m.

Benjamin Rowles has been selected as the college student marshal and commencement speaker for the Liberal Arts ceremony. Rowles is a Schreyer Honors Scholar and is graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in English. He will be escorted by faculty marshal Carla J. Mulford, professor of English.

During his time at Penn State, Rowles was involved with numerous volunteer organizations, including Housing Transitions, which he said has had the largest impact on him. Housing Transitions is a nonprofit organization that provides homeless services to residents of Centre County. While volunteering with Housing Transitions, Rowles learned how to think and work on critical issues impacting the broader State College community.

In addition to making a difference in the community, Rowles excelled in the classroom at Penn State, which is demonstrated by the number of awards he received since his first year. He is the recipient of the President’s Freshman Award, President Sparks Award, Evan Pugh Scholar Award, and the Erickson Discovery Grant, along with various other accolades. Additionally, he completed an honors thesis, "The Urban School Film," which “analyzes narrative conventions and their consequences in contemporary urban school films that have been released in the United States since the year 2000.”

Rowles interned with the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Public Affairs and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He also served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Philadelphia for a year between his sophomore and junior year of college. He volunteered as a tutor for sixth-graders in high-poverty urban schools. As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Rowles had the opportunity to build relationships with the students and see them improve in math and reading. From then on, he knew he wanted to make service central to his life and career.

Rowles’ participation in these various projects and internships led Mulford to believe he would be an excellent candidate for student marshal. She also nominated Rowles for the 16th annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol Day. Rowles will present his work at the Capitol in Harrisburg on April 17.

After graduation, Rowles plans to intern with the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in the political and economic affairs division. After the completion of his summer internship, he will serve as a Fellow with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, D.C. Rowles will lobby Congress on foreign policy issues. He credits the College of the Liberal Arts with preparing him for his fellowship by teaching critical-thinking and communication skills.

“My mentors have consistently praised my writing and critical-thinking abilities in their fellowship recommendations,” said Rowles. “These are skills that I began developing as a liberal arts major on day one. I expect them to continue to benefit me as I pursue a career in foreign policy, a field that prizes communication and analytical expertise.”

When asked what advice he has for incoming first-year students, Rowles said, “It's okay if you don't know what you want to do right away. I certainly didn't. By seeking extracurricular experiences and utilizing the Career Enrichment Network early, however, you can discover what you are passionate about and identify the skills you need to develop to pursue it.”

This is the first in a series of stories on the 22 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts at the spring 2018 commencement ceremony.

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Last Updated April 05, 2018