by Marina Smoske, Editor-in-Chief
While most Honors students are certainly no strangers to hard work, sacrifice, and robust civic involvement, few strike the balance between duty and fulfillment quite like Bennie Lowe- an industrious junior management major enjoying his most recent achievement in a long line of personal and professional accomplishments.
This past November, Lowe was one of just 25 high-achieving students across the country who were awarded a full scholarship to attend the World Affairs Councils of America’s annual national conference, where politicians, diplomats, business leaders, and students alike converged on the nation’s capital and explored the latest in global affairs.
This year’s conference was themed “America and Global Megatrends.” Speakers and session leaders included former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, Global Head of International Relations for Google Ross LaJeunesse, and Executive Director of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs Carmen Iezzi Mezzara, to name a few. Breakaway sessions were held at the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a number of embassies. For Lowe, the conference served as an opportunity to stretch himself academically:
“It definitely changed my perspective on how I view foreign affairs and globalization. I think I already had a global mindset, but I didn’t understand all of the gears and cogs. I have always read articles and journals about international affairs and current events, and those give you a surface-level understanding. When you sit down with these experts that have not only studied the history, culture, and language, but have been in the field and worked with diplomats and foreign officials, you really start to get an enhanced perspective.”
Lowe spoke emphatically of a number of sessions he attended, particularly those pertaining to his personal interest in Middle Eastern affairs. A panel presentation entitled “Countering Violent Extremism: Prevention and Intervention” and moderated by Dr. Andrew Parasiliti of the Center for Global Risk and Security was cited by Lowe as especially captivating:
“They really hit on some of the tension that’s happening due to extremist terrorists and how some individuals are reacting to it. They’re trying to establish social services, counselling, and health and human service initiatives to help people who might be affiliated with extremist groups rather than just using law enforcement and military action. So it involves attacking the network from a more progressive, proactive stance. I hadn’t heard anything like that before. I’m all about being proactive rather than reactive.”
To those who know Lowe, this enthusiasm for leadership and proactive problem-solving comes as no surprise. At BSU, he is a familiar face to many as a celebrated member of the community. A popular RA in Weygand Hall known for his trustworthiness and level-headed approach to conflict resolution, Lowe is also a member of the Residence Hall Association and the National Residence Hall Honorary, to which he was inducted last Fall. Off campus, Lowe is a Senior Airman in the Air Force National Guard working in the career field of financial management. All of his involvement, he says, lends itself to his preferred style of leadership, one he hopes to continue to develop into the future:
“I definitely have a passion for helping others. Not just leadership, but transformational leadership- when you’re trying to mentor people and help them grow. Being in public service through the military and being an RA, I spend almost all of my free time with other people. When I think of what I do for fun, it’s sitting out in the study lounges and talking to people about their hopes and dreams and what they aspire to be. If I can offer some help or just be a friendly face that they can come and talk to, that’s what I enjoy. It’s a very grassroots method of leadership.”
Taking into account what he learned at the WACA Conference, Lowe has already begun to make adjustments to his academic pursuits and career trajectory to include his budding interests. He’s continuing his Arabic studies, and has changed his concentration to global management. Energized by the career opportunities he was exposed to at the conference, Lowe hopes to apply his knowledge in business and management to a government job where he can address instability in the Middle East head-on:
“That region is very dynamic, and I’ve always been keeping up with it. But hearing from the experts really piqued my interest. We’re going to be needing professionals in both the Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture whether we’re still at war or not. There’s a gap that needs to be bridged, and we need more individuals doing that. I would like to be one of them.”