May 13, 2016
The West Texas Catholic submitted five questions to Holy Cross Catholic Academy, Amarillo, Valedictorian Ben Fullerton.
1. You’ve had your heart set on attending an Ivy League school. Take us through the process that led to your acceptance at Columbia…
Ever since I was young my goal was to attend an Ivy League school, so, when the time came to apply for college, I submitted many applications to many prestigious Ivy League schools. The application process involves writing—a lot of it. I spent weeks filling out applications and writing essays. After I submitted my applications, I waited. Most of the process consists of waiting and hoping, and on March 31—the most nerve-racking day of my life—I received an acceptance letter from Columbia University.
2. There will be a difference in life between Amarillo and New York City. If you had the clout to import anything from Texas to the Big Apple, what would that be?
There are three things that I wish I could take with me: my family, my friends and Whataburger. I have lived in Amarillo all my life and have formed many lifelong relationships, and I wish—even though it’s not possible—that I could take everyone with me so I could see them every day. As for Whataburger, I just really like Whataburger, and New York doesn’t have them.
3. You plan to major in Neuroscience and Behavior at Columbia. What led you to pursue degrees in these fields and what do you plan to do with these degrees?
I partook in a preceptorship with Dr. Thomas Easley, an anesthesiologist, because I had an interest in medicine, and he was kind enough to offer me the opportunity. During my time with Dr. Easley, I was exposed to the world of medicine and became absolutely enamored. Soon, Dr. Easley began asking what field I showed interest in, and, after thinking for some time, I decided on Neuroscience. I decided on this field because I have a particular attachment to neurological diseases and disorders. Members of my family and group of friends suffer from diseases of these types. I have seen what these diseases do first-hand, and I want to help diminish the suffering these diseases cause; therefore, I would like to pursue a career in neurological research, specifically concerning diseases, such as Huntington’s, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis.
4. How has participating in debate made you a better student—and please tell us about your final debate event next month?
Debate has taught me how to think critically, and it has taught me the power of the question. For any student to succeed, he or she must have the ability to analyze, synthesize and theorize. Debate has allowed me to finely hone this skill and apply it to my academic work. Debate has also taught me how to question effectively. This skilled has allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of what ever task may be at hand. My final high school tournament—I plan to continue to do debate in college—will take place in Salt Lake City. I will compete in Lincoln-Douglas debate, which is a one versus one format of debate that emphasizes the use of philosophical frameworks to argue for a specified side of a moral dilemma. This is my main event, and I am so excited to be able to compete in it at a national level. I hope to advance far into the tournament, and my goal is to bring back a National’s trophy.
5. Finally, you are leaving the Diocese of Amarillo as a product of Catholic Schools. What advice would you give to those parents who are considering sending their children to Catholic Schools?
From my experience and observation, Catholic schools give students an objectively better education. The general aura at most schools is “show up, act like you are learning, and then leave,” but, at Catholic schools, students are engaged in their education. So, my advice is to seriously consider Catholic schools for your children. The decision to send them to one will greatly benefit them and their education.