When it came time for Ben Meunier to choose where to go to college, it wasn’t just the family connections that gave Lawrence University the inside track.
“Lawrence always felt like home,” said Ben, a senior from Marshall whose father Brian is a 1977 Lawrence graduate and whose older brother Zech graduated in 2015. “It was where I felt I should be, where I felt I needed to be. I see Lawrence as the best school in the state, and I’m very honored to be a student here.
“Lawrence takes the extra steps needed to learn, and that’s really what attracted me,” he added. “For me, Lawrence was just the place to be.”
Coming from what he called “a middle class family, maybe lower middle class,” Ben said the financial support provided by the Wisconsin Grant has been critical.
“Certainly Lawrence would not have been nearly as affordable had I not received the Wisconsin Grant,” said Ben, who holds down a work-study job as a stage hand for Lawrence Conservatory of Music events to help pay his bills. “That grant has helped make my college education possible.”
An anthropology major with a focus on Biblical archeology, Ben spent the 2015 fall semester studying in Jordan. He was the beneficiary of a Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Immersed in the swirl of African, Asian, and European cultures that is Jordan, he considers the opportunity “a life-changing experience.”
“Studying abroad in the Middle East was fantastic as well as anxiety inducing. It was such a wonderful experience,” said Ben, who improved his Arabic language skills while living with a host family. “It’s just so rich and vibrant. And being a Christian in a Muslim nation and region, for once I felt like a minority. I was able to see the world around me in a different way. That was so beneficial and will influence my perspective on the world for the rest of my life.”
A long-time closet artist, Ben recently decided art is the perfect medium for expressing himself, especially when it comes to his religious convictions.
“My studies in archeology and in art are all centered around faith,” said Ben. “I try to give back to God, give back to my faith by trying to show His existence or to represent what He has shown either in the Bible or to other people.”
While his long-range plans include further study abroad and possibly graduate school to continue pursuit of his Biblical archeology interests, his near-term focus is on becoming a law enforcement officer following his graduation from Lawrence next June.
“I am planning on returning to my hometown of Marshall and enrolling in the Police Academy in Madison. That would be a way to get valuable real world experience and give something back to my community through public service. It would be a way to really make a difference in my hometown.”