Ben Weber’s alarm clock sounds, he wakes up and gets dressed. He trots to the office on the naval base, gets in line with the platoon on the grinder, which is similar to a large parking lot. In formation with his peers, Weber listens attentively for the day’s expectations.
After a morning workout, Weber grabs his gear to head out to a construction site or clears out a space in the office to sketch out a new project with his Navy peers.
Weber is a six-year United States Navy veteran who came to Wartburg College in 2013 to get a degree in Fitness Management. He will be walking across the stage at Wartburg’s graduation on May 28.
His career in the Navy began with a recruiter visiting Don Bosco High School when Weber was a senior in 2007.
“They threw us their line and sweet-talked us,” Weber said. “The original idea of not having to go to school anymore, it was probably the first thing that sounded good to an 18-year old.”
During his enlistment in the Navy, Weber traveled on numerous deployments to places like Iraq, Spain and Africa.
Weber said he went on a deployment during his first few months of being enlisted in the Navy. It was that deployment to Iraq that provided him with a special bond among those he was serving with.
“My deployment to Iraq was probably my favorite or best deployment,” Weber said. “That’s where I made all of my first initial relationships with friends. We did a lot of work that deployment.”
For him, that meeting with the Navy recruiter back in high school was one that transformed his journey toward achieving a college education.
The idea of coming back to school was one that Weber knew he always wanted to accomplish, because of the family legacy Wartburg provided him with.
“My older brother, he went here,” Weber said. “I always had the goal of wanting to come back and wrestle here.”
As Weber sits in his leadership portfolio seminar class, he raises his hand to explain why good communication skills are necessary when managing a large group of people. That lesson was one that Weber learned while he was in the Navy and one he built upon during his college experience.
That insight is just one of many that Weber offered during his various college classes.
One of his former professors, Jim Miller, says the contributions Weber makes to the class discussions are ones that provide a different perspective, especially in his fitness management courses.
“You get a worldview that you might not have and so do all of the students in the class,” Miller said.
Miller says the skills Weber has developed in the classroom are a result of the work he put into his career with the Navy.
“I admire him for coming back,” Miller said. “Typically, when that happens, they know what they want. When you spend that much time away and you’re now 24, 25 you might have a better idea of what you want out of it.”
For his efforts in the classroom, Weber stood in front of a large crowd at the Scholars Convocation, as part of Research, Internship and Creative Endeavors (RICE) Day at Wartburg College. He was recognized as the Outstanding Senior for the fitness management major.
Miller says his character in and out of the classroom made him a quality candidate for the award.
“He has been really good in the classroom, he has been there for a purpose. He wants to help people,” Miller said.
As he awaits his diploma from Wartburg College, Weber has an optimistic outlook toward the future.
Weber will continue hammering, nailing and drilling construction projects for his own business, Weber Construction, LLC.
To fuel his passion for helping others, Weber says he will begin applying to area fire departments.
“Working full-time takes a lot of stresses out of different parts of your life,” Weber said. “The end goal is to be a full-time firefighter.”