Ben Wood learned early the impact that one person can have on a community and its people.
The Mount Mercy junior was born in Cedar Rapids but moved with his parents, Joel and Cheryl Wood, to Cascade, Iowa when he was two years old. It was in that small community that Ben would join the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and eventually rise to the level of Eagle Scout, all while participating in service projects through his school, church and scouting.
“Service for me started as a young boy in elementary school when my Dad first got me involved in Cub Scouts,” says Ben. “Scouts was a given opportunity to give my service, and when I was younger, I always wanted to help people, the environment and other areas in need of my assistance. My family was also heavily involved in Scouting. I always saw my parents extending a hand to others and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and make them proud.”
Joel Wood ’90 was instrumental in demonstrating to Ben the role of service and the impact it can have on a community. “A person can see the impact of their involvement in the community first-hand in a smaller town,” says Joel, of his son’s involvement during his younger years. “We drive by the same food pantry that we collected food for, or over the bridge where we cleaned the waterway, or by the park where he completed his Eagle Service project… I think because Ben saw the impact of his service, it was a motivating factor to keep service a part of his life.”
Ben, a communications major with a music minor, has indeed continued a life of service at Mount Mercy, taking advantage of opportunities in the Drama Club, GREEN Outdoor Recreation Club, Choir and Jazz Choir, Campus Ministry, Sustainability Taskforce, Student Government Association, Mount Mercy Times, and STEPS (Striving Toward Engaged and Purposeful Servant-Leadership). He also recently emceed the Mount Mercy Talent Show and serves as a Resident Assistance (RA).
The Woods have encouraged Ben’s involvement in a variety of activities at Mount Mercy, and believe that it has helped their son learn to be more organized and prepared him for employment after college, in addition to the satisfaction of helping others and accomplishing a goal.
“I think Ben enjoys the feeling of satisfaction and purpose that service to others gives him,” says Joel. “Making service part of his life growing up, it is easy to take the time for others as it has become a natural and expected thing to do. I think Ben sees the service work he does as part of an extension of his education and places it in a higher priority than other activities.”
Ben agrees. Service has propelled him to make new friendships and to learn the fine art of time management. “The connections I have made with others through my service has given me more knowledge to serve others who might not have those campus or community connections,” says Ben. “All of these activities have helped me to find a sense of balance between my school work, work study, extracurricular activities, friends and family, which will help me in the future when I am done with college and out in the workforce. If I had not gone to Mount Mercy and went to some big state university, I probably wouldn’t be the same person and wouldn’t have been as involved in the service aspect of my education.”
Cheryl offers advice to parents of Mount Mercy students or prospective students: “Encourage your child to get involved,” she says. “It is good for them, their future, and a peace of mind for yourself knowing that they are involved in these great clubs that are offered at Mount Mercy University.”