New York, NY
Wichita Collegiate High School, 2020
Activities and Interests:
Benjamin Brake of Wichita Collegiate High School is one of two recipients of the 2020 Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Lifelong Learning Scholarship.
His parents are Joyann and Daniel Brake, and he has two younger sisters, Sophia and Natalie, and one older brother, Aaron.
Benjamin plans to use this scholarship and his education to help others. “Ideally, I’d like to find something I’m good at and proficient in to serve our community and do something meaningful,” he said.
Right now, Benjamin thinks the way to turn that dream into a reality is through a career in the law. His interest in the law, especially at the international level, began after his work tutoring refugee students through his school’s International Rescue Committee.
Benjamin said helping students learn grammar and math, especially those who are simultaneously learning English, is an experience that will stay with him long after high-school is complete. “Seeing kids my age in different circumstances made me appreciate the need for education,” he said.
Benjamin’s list of school and community engagements in high school is a long one. When he balances everything from playing saxophone in jazz band to serving as Honor Council class representative, and even performing in Wichita ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Benjamin understands the importance of prioritization and balance. “As academics get harder, you’ve got to focus on quality over quantity,” he said. Volunteerism, music, athleticism, powerlifting and debate rise to the top of his priority list. He also excels in Latin language studies, which he has studied for five years.
Benjamin’s selection for an internship with the Department of Justice for the District of Kansas in Wichita increased his desire to become a lawyer and help others.
“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 said.
Benjamin began attendance at Columbia University in New York City in the Fall of 2020, where he made it his goal to earn a well-rounded education with robust intellectual opportunities. “At the end of the day, I want to keep learning more and more in college, not just plan for the job, specifically,” he said.
One of Timothy’s values particularly resonated with Benjamin: integrity. He recalls reading one of Timothy’s high school papers, “The Good Life,” and contemplating his message. “The idea of actually being good for the sake of being good, not just doing what’s best for you, but having a set of values and morals and sticking to them,” he said. “That definitely stood out to me.”