The future of higher education learning methods and textbooks could be shaped by the work and opinions of an Elyria man who was tapped for an elite advisory board.
Brendan Bennett, 20, is one of 15 college students selected across North America to participate in the prestigious Pearson Student Advisory Board. The student board is part of Pearson Education, an education publishing and assessment service company that works with schools and businesses, as well as with students. More than 800 students applied for elite, yearlong position. Bennett was selected after a rigorous application process that included essays, recommendations and video interviews.
Bennett is a student in Lorain County Community College’s University Partnership and will earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cleveland State University in May. He is able to earn a bachelor’s degree at the age of 21 – a year sooner than most traditional students – by taking advantage of LCCC classes that were offered while he was a student at Midview High School, where he graduated in 2014.
“I had 18 college credits completed by the time I graduated high school,” Brendan said. “That was a huge advantage, not only in terms of hours completed, but also because I knew what to expect going into college.”
In his role on the Pearson Student Advisory Board, Bennett collaborates with students from across the United States, Canada and Mexico. The colleges represented include community colleges, such as LCCC, and college and universities of every level including Harvard and UCLA.
“It was really intimidating at first to be sitting next to a student from Harvard, but you start to realize they’re people just like you with the same goal of being successful,” Bennett said. “It’s very cool getting to know all these people with very diverse backgrounds and learning from their experiences.” After becoming acquainted with the board members and Pearson employees, Bennett understood the importance of his position on the board. “My job is to represent students of all abilities and backgrounds,” he said. “Being that I am a student from an extremely diverse school like LCCC, this position on the board is even more important to me.”
According to Pearson, current student advisory board members work directly with Pearson executives and product development teams to make tangible changes to products and services that affect student success. The student board brings a strong student voice into the conversation about products that help shape their education experience and journey.
Bennett’s appointment officially began in June, when all the student board members convened in Boston. At the orientation meeting in Boston, the group was informed of the five projects that they would be working on over the next 12 months. One of the more interesting projects for Bennett was a research and development initiative based on a textbook membership platform. The student advisory board members were asked to assess a current membership that they utilized and demonstrate how these services operate. Bennett decided to research the popular movie streaming service, Netflix, to present to the team during online meetings with Pearson employees. This research and development of Bennett and the student advisory team is preliminary work in what may become a step in a new direction for Pearson Education.
Another component of the program is a blog, on which Bennett will create a piece about behavioral interviews – a familiar topic for him as he is considering a career in industrial psychology or organizational development.
“Coming from a psychology background, writing a blog has been a unique challenge for me,” he said. “I’m used to writing scientifically, and this project requires a more introspective way of writing.”
Projects, panels and collaboration are no strangers to Bennett. During his time at LCCC, he has emerged as a campus leader. In his third semester at LCCC, Bennett joined the LCCC Student Senate on campus as the executive secretary in an attempt to improve the student experience at LCCC. The next year, Bennett was elected as President of the Student Senate. Bennett described the Student Senate as being one of the most important organizations that he has ever been a part of due to the professional, educational and personal development. His time as a Student Senator came to an end in October as Bennett began an internship at Sherwin-Williams headquarters in Cleveland. At Sherwin-Williams, Bennett serves as a human resource intern in the IT department, specializing in human capital engagement and acquisition.
“Leaving the Student Senate was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make,” Bennett said. “After some thinking, I knew that the internship was an amazing opportunity to gain experience and eventually land a career in my desired field of work.”
He is also a member of the honor societies Phi Theta Kappa and Psi Beta, and volunteers regularly at a variety of events on campus and in the community.
“Time management is an important part of my life,” Bennett said. “I make sure everything I am involved in gets the attention it deserves.”
His efforts are noticed by many at LCCC, including President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D.
“Brendan came to the college as a high school student and has grown to become an inspiring leader here on campus and in the community,” Ballinger said. “We know he is going to continue to do great things.”
Throughout his academic and leadership endeavors on campus, Bennett has found support and mentorship from Selina Gaddis, manager of LCCC’s Office of Student Life, and psychology professor Michelle Foust, Ph.D.
“Mrs. Gaddis and Dr. Foust made the opportunity at Pearson possible, as well as my internship with Sherwin Williams. I am grateful for all they have done for me,” Bennett said.
Following graduation in May, Brendan plans to continue his education to earn a master’s degree in organizational development or industrial psychology.