Lake Superior State University
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Ben Mitchell

Ben Mitchell
Mechanical Engineering '06

Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others. He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.

All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.

His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.

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Snowman Trivia

The fastest way to melt snow: LSSU’s annual Snowman Burning

As with snowmen of the past, politics have an influential role in their design. The snowman of 2001 was no different. The Florida ballot was still the hot topic the following spring. In the foreground, students enjoy a sign of spring with daffodils.

As with snowmen of the past, politics have an influential role in their design. The snowman of 2001 was no different. The Florida ballot was still the hot topic the following spring. In the foreground, students enjoy a sign of spring with daffodils.

Here in Sault Ste. Marie, winters are as beautiful as they are long. Every year, right before “cabin fever” sets in, LSSU holds one of it’s most beloved and time-honored events. We here at Lake State burn a "snowman" to welcome spring! It is believed by some that the rising smoke from the fire will protect Sault Ste. Marie from additional winter weather.

As fun as this tradition is, it is also full of history. In March of 1971, a former LSSU organization called The Unicorn Hunters created this event. They got their idea from the Rose Sunday Festival in Weinheim-an-der-Bergstrasse, Germany, where the mayor burns a straw snowman to welcome spring in exchange for obedient children.

In recent years children have played an important role in the LSSU snowman burning ceremony. Traditionally, poetry is read at the ceremony and prizes are given to the most accomplished poet. However, now local area school children are encouraged to write poetry for the event.

Snowman IconThe snowmen throughout the years have consisted of little more than used paper, wood, wire and paint. It is remarkable that this tradition inspires so many students, faculty, and community members to come together and celebrate the changing of season.

The snowman burning that takes place every year is just another way of showing the community, the state and the world that we here at LSSU love Sault Ste. Marie—weather and all! Rather than bemoan the winter temperatures, we look forward to a brighter (often warmer) day. This idea extends to all aspects of campus life. After all, LSSU is here to see you reach and look forward to a brighter future.

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Jessica Hirt

Jessica Hirt
English

"One of my favorite things about LSSU is its size. The classrooms, especially as you get to the upper levels, get smaller, so you not only have a chance to discuss your ideas in an honest, supportive manner, but you also get to know your professors and classmates. The upper level courses really allow you to focus on what you love, and the small class size allows you to have time to share and to discuss your ideas."

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