"I’ve come to appreciate the learning process greater the more I learn, whether in academics or elsewhere, and I think it’s essential to undertake the process with a sense of humility."

Benjamin Brake 

B.A., Philosophy 
Columbia University, 2024

High School:
Wichita Collegiate High School, 2020
Wichita, KS

Activities and Interests:

Benjamin Brake, an alumnus of Wichita Collegiate High School, was one of the 2020 Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Lifelong Learning Scholarship recipients.

He is the son of Daniel and Joyann Brake, and has an older brother Aaron, and two younger sisters, Sophia and Natalie.

Benjamin’s attraction to a career in law stemmed in part from his high school internship with the US Attorney’s Office, District of Kansas. “Seeing attorneys in action, especially at the federal level—something about that process they went through validated in my mind that it’s something I could do and wanted to do,” he reflected.” At the same time, his involvement with the IRC volunteer tutoring program of refugee students sparked his interest in issues of international affairs.

Throughout high school, Benjamin was engaged in numerous school and community activities. Benjamin underscored the importance of prioritization and balance, saying, “As academics got harder, I focused on quality over quantity.” He prioritized volunteerism, music, athleticism, powerlifting, and debate. He also excelled in Latin language studies, which he pursued for five years.

In Fall of 2020, Benjamin commenced his studies at Columbia University in New York City, where he aimed to earn a well-rounded education with robust intellectual opportunities. “At the end of the day, I wanted to keep learning more and more in college, not just plan for the job, specifically,” he explained.

During undergraduate, Benjamin has focused on economics and philosophy, while also studying the formal Arabic language to complement his particular interest in the MENA region. In addition to academic studies, Benjamin’s time at Columbia has been marked by involvement in religious and philosophic organizations on campus, the Columbia Rugby Football Club, and the Columbia Barbell Club. He has pursued various internship experiences focusing on international trade research and compliance, and is looking for entry-level career possibilities as he strives to eventually return to school for a JD. Issues of international trade, investment, and dispute resolution, and their extensions to policy, is of great interest to him.

Ever since joining the Foundation, Benjamin felt a strong resonance with one of Timothy O’Shaughnessy’s core values: integrity. He recalled reading one of Timothy’s high school paper, “The Good Life,”—a WCS humanities seminar capstone project that Benjamin also undertook – which articulated this quality particularly well: “The idea of actually being good for its own sake, not just doing what’s best for you, but having a set of values and morals and sticking to them,” he reflected. “That definitely stood out to me.”