Ben Swank ’18

Being an Outdoor Programs trip leader has helped this  Johnston student develop his leadership skills.


In his time at Redlands, Ben Swank has done a lot. He's been an ASUR senator, a member of the jazz band, a soccer club member; but his most beneficial role has been with Outdoor Programs.

As a trip leader, he organizes and leads other students on expeditions into the great outdoors. He's taken his fellow students hiking, backpacking, river rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking. "This last semester I think I went out to Joshua Tree National Park five or six times," Ben says. "Being near such varied environments is a special thing."

That's one of his favorite thing about the University—the location. Within an hour or two, you can be riding the Los Angeles subway, climbing stone monoliths in the desert, surfing at the beach or trudging through snow in the mountains.

Exploring these terrains has given Ben a lot of new skills. "I had moderate experience in outdoor endeavors, but since I’ve been here I’ve learned a broad range of skills specific to outdoor activities, like back-country medicine, cooking, navigation and risk analysis, as well as skills like group dynamic management, intentionality and expedition behavior that contribute to my overall education," he says.

There's no doubt Ben has a taste for adventure, and he has that same spirit whether he's in the woods or hanging out with friends on campus. "Students are spontaneous, and each day is different," he says. "It might include late night drives to star gaze in Joshua Tree, hanging with friends on and off campus or going out to local food joints to grab a snack."

He has a lot of fun, but he takes his studies seriously. Ben is a student in the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies where he focuses on sustainable development.

One of the reasons he chose University of Redlands is the personal attention he gets from his professors. "They're all so personable, very relaxed," he says. "I call all my professors by their first names. It's always easy to go into their offices and discuss a topic I need a little more work on or want to understand a little better."