Ben Curtis ′12
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Fun Fact: "After graduation, my friends and I might just sail around world, maybe."
You′re the unofficial head coach of the student-run Rhodes Fencing Team. So tell us: Why is fencing so awesome?
I′ve been fencing since 7th grade, and I still love it. Some people may get the wrong idea about it. Fencing isn′t about swashbuckling or being a pirate. It′s better to look at it as a sport. It′s about strength and finesse, but it′s also very mental. You′re always moving, and you′re always thinking. I love it.
The fencing club′s only been around a short time, yet it′s already one of Rhodes′ most popular club sports. What′s the secret?
My freshman year the word hadn′t gotten around about the fencing club, so there were only four of us. The next year we started recruiting. Our pitch was, "We have all the equipment you need, and we’re basically willing to teach you everything." We didn’t expect the huge turnout we got at the first meeting. It showed that there are a lot of students at Rhodes who still want to compete in sports even if, for one reason or another, they can′t do it on the varsity level. With all the new interest, I even ended up becoming the "instructor." That was a fun side of fencing I hadn’t experienced. It′s rewarding to see the people you teach excel and get better.
Fencing was already in your bloodstream when you came to Rhodes. But how did you discover your passion for philosophy?
My first year Search class was absolutely amazing, and it was taught by a philosophy professor. So I thought I′d check out philosophy a bit more. I applied for a Rhodes Student Associate position in the philosophy department, got the job, and got to know the professors. They′re wonderful. They bring that energy and passion to what they teach. From talking and learning with them, I realized this is the kind of stuff I want to be thinking about. This is the kind of stuff I want to be doing right now.
When you walk out of here with your diploma, where are you headed?
I have no idea. But the thing is, with a philosophy major, you can do just about anything. Philosophy may get this bad rap for being esoteric and ungrounded, but it′s the other way around. Philosophy is the stuff of everyday life. With philosophy, you′re learning how to think critically and solve problems, and that′s useful in any profession.