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O'Banion sets sights on social work career, pro bowling

November 11, 2015

Ben O'Banion, Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month for October 2015. (Photo by Daniel Binkard/Chadron State College) Ben O'Banion, Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month for October 2015. (Photo by Daniel Binkard/Chadron State College)

CHADRON –Second generation CSC student and social work major Ben O’Banion of Boulder, Colorado, has been named the Project Strive TRiO Student of the Month for October.

His mother, Dawn Bowcott-King, was inducted into the CSC Hall of Fame in 2013 in honor of her distance running accomplishments in the mid-1980s. She was also one of the college’s first graduates of the Social Work program.

“She told me I could look at other colleges, but that I was going to come to Chadron. I’m glad I did. This is a good school,” he said.

In his second year as a mentor in the CSC Project Strive TRiO program, O’Banion reminds his group of six freshmen about upcoming events such as budgeting, team building and resume workshops, among other responsibilities.

“TRiO has given me the motivation to do well on tests and opened up a job opportunity for me mentoring six freshmen. The staff is always there for me,” he said.

He was one of eight mentors who attended a training workshop in Rapid City, South Dakota, last year. He has been pleased to see the confidence levels of his mentoring cohort members increase as they become more involved.

“This is exactly what I want to do. I want to help people. I’m born to do this. A lot of my friends come to me for advice,” he said.

Project Strive TRiO director Jen Schaer said O’Banion is a valuable member of the organization, willing to help in any capacity and especially skilled at getting others involved.

O’Banion’s work ethic is evident by his schedule when he returns home for breaks. He has a dog walking job, volunteers as a mentor at the Chase House, a home for troubled youth, and is on the grounds crew at the Eldorado Swimming Pool.

Sonja Dressel, counselor with Project Strive TRiO, said O’Banion has an amazing attitude.

“He is always positive about whatever he is learning in class or through outside of school activities. Ben also has big heart and genuinely cares about people around him. We are very lucky to have him as a mentor to other Project Strive students,” she said.

O’Banion also has a passion for bowling that has led him to bowl competitively and practice regularly with a coach when he returns to Colorado for semester breaks. In Rapid City last year, he won a tournament of 47 bowlers, averaging above 180 in 12 games. He is excited to be approaching the average score of 190 needed to qualify for consideration to join the Pro Bowling Tour.

“I come from a long line of O’Banion bowlers,” he said, adding that he bowled a 246 in the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014. His goal is to be a pro bowler on TV within three years. “If I don’t qualify for the tour, I’ll coach kids. There’s a lot more to bowling than people realize. When the ball isn’t reacting like you want, you change your strategy. There’s gravity, physics, geometry, form and footwork to consider. When I’m up there for those two seconds, everything else goes away,” he said.

—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator

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