Former Dragon Takes Flight

GHS Alumnus Receives Prestigious Opportunity


Submitted Photo

Sense of Adventure: While heading across campus, Ben Randall (19) rides his bike. “I’m going down the niche path of an adventure journalist. Through the triathlons and endurance sports I do, it’s very easy to get sponsorship where I can promote content for companies while doing the athletic passions I have,” Randall said. His current major is in journalism with a concentration in public relations and advertising.

Shortly after the end of World War II, one U.S. Senator, Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, brought forth an idea. The sale of excess military equipment to finance a program of “international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science”. Today the program he began provides opportunities in international study for thousands of people, including Colorado State University junior and 2019 GHS alumnus Ben Randall, who received the opportunity to travel to Ireland.
“It’s really cool,” Randall said. “I feel very very grateful to be in the position I am in. The summer institute program that I applied for is one of the most selective programs that they offer through the UK and the United States. I’m very very fortunate and lucky to be able to go next year and study.”
The “Story Program” is a first-year branch associated with the Fulbright Scholarship, that is based around the study of liberal arts, multimedia and storytelling. It is recommended for majors in art, dance, music, poetry and journalism. The program will take Randall to Queen’s University in Belfast, where he will spend roughly a month from June 21 through July 17 next year.
“I’m really excited to be the guinea pig for this program,” Randall said. “and to make some multimedia projects. There’s a little bit about creating a final piece in a podcast or an Adobe Premier video, so that sounds pretty exciting.”
Consistent with many events this year from the NBA to the Presidential Election, the Fulbright program has not gone unaffected by the outbreak of a global pandemic. The selection process had to be moved online to Zoom meetings and email updates, and the number of scholars was scaled back by half. At one point Randall was the only student out of three thousand that had been accepted.
“It was going to be this summer,” Randall said. “I would have already gone. They postponed it until the summer of 2021. It also affected all the Zoom meetings we had that would have been in person. If you can push something a whole year off, there’s no telling if it will be next year since we don’t know where COVID will be at that point.”
While he was at GHS, Randall spent several semesters in the journalism program. An experience he credits with helping him to build confidence in writing and in life enabling him to take more risks and eventually become his former school’s first Fulbright Scholar.
“It should speak of all the great teachers I had through my great journey through GHS,” Randall said. “Some that come to mind are Mr. (Matt) Johnson, Mrs. (Gretchen) Baijnauth and Ms. (Carole) Carraher. You can’t go wrong with a lot of this teaching staff at GHS because they bring you up in a way where you learn the material but you also learn how to be a good person. It’s definitely an honor but it should speak highly of the education Gretna provides.”
Currently, Randall is majoring in Journalism with a special concentration on public relations. He is looking towards a future in a very niche journalistic avenue, that of adventure journalism.
“Through the triathlons and endurance sports I do,” Randall said. “It’s very easy to get sponsorship where I can promote content for companies while doing the athletic passions I have. Definitely, an outdoorsy adventure style journalist is the path I’m heading down now.”
Though he has ventured far from home to attend university, and continues on, farther while achieving new academic heights. Ben Randall is a role model to students at his former school, looked upon as a prime example of Gretna’s spirit of discovery.