PULLMAN, Wash. — Sometimes honors are expected, other times they are not.
Ben White was not surprised on May 9, during Washington State University commencement, when he received his bachelor of communication degree, magna cum laude.
And, on April 26, he knew in advance that WSU President Samuel Smith was presenting him, and other students, with WSU President’s Awards for “embracing the responsibility of service and the promotion of community through leadership.”
But he was surprised Monday, June 8, during the eighth grade recognition night ceremony at Pullman’s Lincoln Middle School, when he was given an award for “exceptional service to students.”
“(It was) absolutely amazing,” White said. “I really never expected something like this, but it’s one heck of an honor. These kids are great to work with and I’ll miss them a lot.”
He received a Golden Acorn Award, part of the state of Washington PTA volunteer recognition program, from the middle school’s parent teacher student association. The award honored White’s work — as an unpaid volunteer receiving no academic credit — with seventh and eighth grade students who ran Lincoln’s Channel 3 News, an in-school cable TV program.
During the 1997-1998 WSU academic year, White was general manager of Cable 8, a university student-run production which includes news and entertainment programs and is carried on Pullman’s cable TV system.
In the fall of 1997, Bonnie Svingen, a Lincoln teacher who directs Channel 3 News, met with Alex Tan, director of WSU’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. She asked about a mentoring program between the school and Channel 3 News. White learned of Svingen’s request and volunteered to help.
“From his first phone call to me to volunteer, Ben was enthusiastic,” said Svingen, who nominated White for the award. “His enthusiasm caught on with our students,” she said. “He involved other WSU students from Cable 8 with Channel 3 students. Ben came to our newsroom at Lincoln by walking, running or riding the bus and worked tirelessly with our students. And, he hosted our students on the WSU campus for an evening Cable 8 production. I’ve had a variety of volunteers during my teaching career, but Ben is one of the best.”
Glenn Johnson, who directs WSU’s nationally-ranked broadcasting program in the Murrow School, said White is “exceptional in his enthusiasm, his leadership abilities and is just a joy to be around. He’s always planning something.”
While broadcasting seems to be in White’s future, the WSU graduate aspires to be a college athletic director. He has applied for graduate work in athletic administration at several universities. White said he has been accepted at one and “should hear any day now from another.”
White is a 1994 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School and the son of Thomas White, Marysville.