Why I Give – Ben Kees ’10

Why did you choose Wesleyan?
My older brother went to KWC, so I was already familiar with the school and knew a lot of people there. I wasn’t sure I wanted to enroll there at first, but I just didn’t get the same feeling of home at any other campus I toured. Later my senior year, I was invited to compete for the James Graham Brown Scholarship and was fortunate to be selected as a recipient. The decision was pretty simple from there.

Tell us about your career.
I started my career at Wesleyan as an admissions counselor after I graduated in 2010. I loved being able to tell our story to prospective students and enjoyed working with them through the college choice process. The more I was around higher education, the more I knew I wanted to make higher education my career. After three years helping recruit students to KWC, I left to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Vanderbilt.

I made the switch to the alumni and development side of campus and have worked in philanthropy since graduating from that program. I started as associate director of development at Eastern Kentucky University and have worked since early 2018 as director of development at Western Carolina University. I facilitate philanthropic support for the College of Education and Allied Professions and the College of Arts and Sciences.

How did Wesleyan prepare you for your life and career?
Wesleyan provided a first class academic experience. I always thought that to be true while I was a student, but really found out how true it was upon entry to graduate school. My classes had students representing a cross section of some of the nation’s most reputable institutions, and I was alongside them, performing just as well. Also, I met my wife at Peabody, so I’m even more thankful to Wesleyan for helping me get there! KWC prepared me very well to excel at the next level, especially when it came to writing. I credit Dr. John Combs with a lot of that. I had him for Writing Workshop, and it was a critical foundation for writing well on a collegiate level. Additionally, Dr. Randy Vogt was always a great professor and advisor.

What are other memories of Wesleyan?
I have several, and my brothers from Sigma Phi Epsilon are involved in a lot of them. I am lucky to have made the friendships I did there and am impressed by what we are out doing in the world now. AIso, I remember competing in KDub Idol, late night breakfasts at the Royce and doing play-by-play broadcasts of the Lady Panther basketball team on WKWC. The men’s basketball team had a great run during my time as a student, and I loved being there to watch at the Sportscenter. We had a top five team my senior year and got to host the Midwest regional that year. The lone piece of legislation I proposed during my one term as senator on SGA was making sure we could pick up the tab on the student tickets, since our regular student passes didn’t apply to postseason tournaments.

Why do you give to KWC and why do you recommend that others give?
I give to KWC because the College gave so much to me. Scholarships like the one I received make it possible for so many to get the great education Wesleyan provides. It is likely I wouldn’t have been able to come to Wesleyan without such a scholarship, so it is even more important for me to return some of the investment that was provided to me by the College. I am also motivated to give because I hold the history of KWC’s journey to Owensboro very closely in my heart. A group of people gave their money to move the College to Owensboro because they knew the value of higher education and were willing to go to great lengths to make sure our community had access to it. Wesleyan is quite literally built on the legacy of philanthropy, and I am proud to be part of that legacy.