Will Benton, a fourth-year psychology student, will be participating in the fifth annual Catholic Charities Spelling Bee on May 1 with his team members Sean Kolonay, a fourth-year photography student, and Michael Ricker, third-year chemical engineering student. Benton and his RIT teammates took first place at last year’s event and will be defending their title as they compete against teams of local businesses, high schools and other universities. Benton also volunteers at Two Kings Comics in Victor, N.Y., on Free Comic Book Day and with the Red Cross.
Question: Where are you from?
Answer: I am from Bloomfield, N.Y., the land of cows and fields. It’s a small one-stoplight town but it was a nice place to have grown up in.
Q: What brought you to RIT?
A: I originally wanted to be a filmmaker. RIT was not only a great resource for this with their fantastic School of Film & Animation, but also by far the closest film school.
Q: Why did you decide to study psychology instead?
A: It turned out that filmmaking was more of a great hobby for me. I had always wanted to do something with psychology and counseling, so that was my immediate go-to once I had figured out that I didn’t want to make films as a profession.
Q: What have been some of your favorite memories from your time at RIT?
A: I made a great group of close friends and met a bunch of other equally wonderful people. I have so many great memories with them but a few in particular would be blindly boarding a Greyhound freshman year to the University of Buffalo and finding our way around with no idea where to go or having big holiday dinners that brought everyone together.
Q: What is the Catholic Charities Spelling Bee event?
A: The event is a spelling bee sponsored by the Catholic Charities of Livingston County that helps to raise money to benefit their cause. Last year they raised more than $12,000!
Q: How did you get involved?
A: My good friend’s sister was involved with the committee and there was an open spot for another team. He told us about the opportunity and decided why not give it a shot! So we formed a team with our other mutual friend.
Q: Why did you want to participate?
A: It sounded like a really enjoyable opportunity. I don’t think any of us had actually been involved in a real spelling bee before so it was the perfect time to try something new.
Q: What did it mean to you and your team to win last year?
A: Honestly I didn’t expect us to win, we just did it for fun and to do the best we could. We just kept going through words and it all happened kind of fast! I was really surprised but it was a great competition for a good cause so it was a great feeling.
Q: How have you been preparing for this year’s event?
A: I always try to keep up with reading and I’m always reading different literature for my classes. Whenever I don’t know a word I make sure to give it a quick look-up. I’ve done that since I was younger so I guess in that way I always try to update my vocabulary on things I don’t know. There are, of course, a huge amount of word possibilities so you just have to hope you’ll know it, or at least be able to recognize the phonetics.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about competing again this year?
A: I’m looking forward to meeting some other teams and taking some time to take in the experience a little more, since last year was a little overwhelming.
Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I was recently admitted to St. John Fisher College’s program for a master’s in mental health counseling. I’ll be starting in the fall and I’m really looking forward to it!