Erickson Merkel Foundation: Tell us a little bit about your family and friends growing up, and any positive effect that they had on your formative years.
Benjamin Balster: Family always stuck to a routine during the school/work week and on the weekends. My family and friends had several positive effects on me growing up, including how to treat others, to be helpful, and friendly.
EMF: When you were going through elementary, middle or high school, did you have a clear idea on what you wanted to do when you ‘grew up’?
BB: No. However, I always knew I wanted to go to school for engineering and work on projects that required me to think critically.
EMF: When was it that you realized that only you could be responsible for your future, and in what ways did you take control of your life after?
BB: Towards the start of high school is when I realized I was the only person that was responsible for my future. After realizing this, I started studying more, dedicating more time to school sports, and planning my days more effectively.
EMF: Were there any people you looked up to when you were younger, and why?
BB: Grandpa and Dad – Both knew how to fix everything and seemed to always know everything. Zig Ziglar – My dad gave me one of his books and I thought it talked a lot about how to be accountable for one’s self. Everyone should read it.
EMF: Are there any people living or dead who you draw inspiration from?
BB: Neil Armstrong
EMF: Are there any causes that you feel strongly about, that you would like to give back to someday, or that you’ve been able to help out so far?
BB: Global hunger
EMF: When did you get your first job, where was it, and what prompted you to get it?
BB: I got my first “real” job at 16 for the parks department in my city. I was prompted to get it because it seemed like a great way to spend a summer.
EMF: What keeps you motivated through long weeks of work and study?
BB: Knowing that as I progress, I am getting better and stronger as a person.
EMF: What are your personal and professional goals?
BB: Personally, I’m interested in learning how to cook food from various cultures. Professionally, I’d like to pursue a job as a project manager or engineer in the pharmaceutical industry.
EMF: Why do you think it’s important for today’s undergraduates to have a clear understanding of debt and finances?
BB: College tuition is at the highest cost it has ever been. Depending on your degree, it is also the most difficult time to pay any debt back.
EMF: Are you planning on any further academic pursuits after completing your current degree?
BB: As for now, I’d like to enter the workforce after graduation. However, I am considering pursuing and MBA after a few years.
EMF: After dedicating yourself to work and study, what do you do to wind down?
BB: I like to play guitar, bake/cook, and do the dishes.