January Student of the Month: Ben Stopka

What is your background?: I was born in Wheaton, Ill., on June 25, 1998. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with my mother, father, sister and brother. I was the youngest, with all of us exactly one year and 11 months apart. I went to Wheaton North High School and graduated in 2016. This year is my first year as an Eagle!

What brought you to Kirkwood and why?: I had planned to come here for a year, get my residency in the state of Iowa, and then go to University of Iowa. When I learned that I had to be a part time student for a year to do that, I decided to instead come here and get my associate’s degree and then move back to Illinois. I wanted to experience a rural area like Iowa as I had only lived in urban and suburban areas my whole life. Plus, Kirkwood was ranked better than my community college back home, so I thought why not go here instead.

What is your program of study and what interests you about it?: I am a liberal arts student. As I said, I want to get my associate’s degree and then transfer to a school in Illinois. I plan to major in creative writing and minor in history. I’ve always loved creating stories and imagining plots, which led to a passion for writing narratively in high school, specifically in the fantasy genre.

Are you involved in anything else on campus?: I am an editor and staff writer for the school newspaper, the Communique. I wanted to get more professional experience in writing and wanted to be involved in the school, figuring the newspaper to be the best route for both of those. I am also part of the leadership for the very first Kirkwood Dance Marathon. I was a very sick child and I spent a lot of time in the hospital. When I heard there was a group raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, I jumped right into it and it has been such an awesome experience so far.

What do you do for fun?: I like to write my books. I watch the YouTube show Good Mythical Morning and I play a lot of video games. I also enjoy going out or staying in with my roommates and friends.

Where do you see yourself in five years?: To be completely honest, I couldn’t tell you. So many weird things have happened in my life that I’ve learned you can definitively plan anything. What I hope is that I’ll be able to get my bachelor’s degree, move out to the West Coast, continue my love for writing, stay together with my girlfriend Abbi, start a YouTube show with my best friend Spencer, and work some odd jobs to stay afloat. Luckily I won’t have to pay much debt, thanks to Kirkwood!

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