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.

The History of Word Banishment

n 1977, one year after Lake Superior State University Public Relations Director W.T. (Bill) Rabe released the first "banished words list," he said that the international reaction from news media and the public told him "it would go on forever."

Forever may be stretching it, but the annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness has been going strong since New Year's Day 1976 and shows no signs of stopping. People from around the world have nominated hundreds of words and phrases such as "you know," "user friendly," "at this point in time," and "have a nice day," to be purged from the language.

The tongue-in-cheek Banishment List began as a publicity ploy for little-known LSSU. The University, established in 1946, was opened as a branch of Michigan College of Mining and Technology to make room for returning World War II veterans. Lake Superior State College became autonomous in 1970 and developed into Lake Superior State University in 1987. It has grown from the tiny branch college into an institution offering more than 60 degree programs in fields such as engineering, fisheries and wildlife management, biology, criminal justice, nursing, teacher education and more.

In 1971, Rabe realized that Lake State was still largely thought of as a branch of Michigan Technological University, if it was known at all. To combat this image, he established the mythical Unicorn Hunters, along with events such as the annual Snowman Burning to welcome the first day of spring and, in 1976, the famous list of words.

In order to gain the most media coverage possible, the Banishment List is released each year on New Year's Day. This is attributed to former newsman Rabe's knowledge of the press. New Year's Day is traditionally a slow news day.

The first list was dreamed up by Rabe and a group of friends at a New Year's Eve party in 1975. The following day, he released the list and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, nominations for words and expressions to be banished have been invited and accepted throughout the year.

After Rabe retired in 1987, the University copyrighted the concept and continued the tradition. The popularity of the effort shows no signs of dwindling. Hundreds of nominations are received each year, and LSSU Public Relations Office staff conduct dozens of news interviews, largely with radio stations throughout North America and sometimes overseas on all major networks, including Cable News Network, Associated Press, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and more.

Career Focused...

Rebecca Secrest

Rebecca Secrest
Social Science
Alanson, MI

"LSSU's size is perfect. I see familiar faces every day. There is a security and comfort in that. The professors are wonderful, and there is a lot of interaction in the smaller classes. The level of attention students get is the same as at a small private college, but at a great price." [ more ]

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